Skip to main content

Full text of "Rhino Foundation"

See other formats


No. 6 • December 2004 


Nli-u-sli-rtff Kn 6 TVccpbcT ?004 



A, Kapur 

S. Gurung 

Ml* A.Wright, Cltxurperte* 

■■ . ,-.'.■•-' . 

Assam Co. Ltd 
Goodrickc Group Ltd. 

(rftiryrr Williamson (A«sm) T*H 
Methoni Tea Go. Lid. 
Morin Tea Ccx Ltd. 
Tata Tea Lid. 
Warren lea Ltd. 

Registered under the Society fjgtsttuthrt 
A* Anm N* 1 7 29 of NJK 

Rcgd Ofliec: C/o Assam Co. Ltd.. G.Bordoloi 
Path, Bamuniffiaidam, Guwahiti 781021, INDIA. 

Donations to The Rhino Foundation 
for Nature in NE India are eligible 

for lax exemption uiiJur Section 
80'G of the Income Tax Act. 


The Rhino Foundation for nature in NE 
ZXIS-Oi hy A m».r*M* fJuttJhmy 1 


(Caannp : dw aairun/s peatett tmerwwaoa 

«ii«*M by Pnufrtf BerMu . . . . 1 
lias the ttger a future in ir.dia? by Ptttrjmtmm . . 9 
Prcm th* diipj of a forest officer r wo* dephuB 

and Vcrricr EJhvin by K&wu />. OMi&Bg ... 13 

I r ,., r.iiij. <■'-. -.:i,r...inr. .,,-,, I p, rt n d.;K of Nili 

India by PAt^* Af<"Ji»w» 15 

The Story of The Rhino Foundation 
by Aim r«jW....17 


r .li|'li.tni in. in. irruiriii Ml Auani : ui ui^uik 

culture by K*sia/K. Sbtnm ....IB 
Ntmble trird records frorr Kaku|an reserve 
forest by Akop K AW 20 

Special Report 

The mystery rracatpje of Arunachal Pndeah 
by Atuanddtt (.hmJAurj .... 21 

Briefly . . . 26 
Boitk Rnfpm 29 

Sprtlighl . 

Vanbhinghalniai ih-rjiem Pharre'i leaf 
Mookcf by AnwamMn G\m&my 12 

The npininns -vpr<-ssj-d hy tie contributing authors arc rot necemrih/ those of the foundation. The designations of 

geographical entitici in this publkatjor and the presentation of rh< material, do not imply expression of any opinian 
wiuiuucvci cijiicci imi^ die Icjfil Mann of any tuuittry, territory, uranai.ui < >i its audiunticsi,ur conixriung the dcEniiarian of 
its frontiers or boundaries. 

b'orfprtbtriiffarmatioa, pique qntt to: 

Mrs A. Wright, ClmirpcTson, C/u ToUygunge 

Club. 120 DRSastml Road, Kolkata 

700 (133, INDIA. Tel: 91-33- 2473-3306 

Fax: 91-33- 2473-1 903/2472-C480 

Ema_b wrghtfoonfomart.corii 

Di Anu.ui H-ddin Clfumltritry, Honorary Lhief 

Executive, C/o Assam Co. Ltd., Bamun.makam, 
Gowahiti 781021, Assam, INDIA Tel: 91361- 

2550257/2663339 $ Fax: 91-361-2550 902 
Email: badrul . WadruUa' 

Survey of wjidifc in Bherjan, horajan & PodumoniRFs with s proposal for a wildlife sanctuary. 

Survey of While- winged wood duck and -he BsngaJ florican ir. Tinsukia district dt adjacent areas. 

Dhansiri Tiger Reserve. Revised proposal. Birds of Nongkhyllem, Survey of Mrs Hume's Pheasant in NF. India. Birds of 

Kaznuigfl national park a rrlM-kli*- A pnrkrt giiirlr rnthr hirds nf Nagaland Newsletter*. No 1 (1 c .Q-6) r No.2 (1998), No.3 

(2001), No.4 (2002), Na5(2003). Two pesters on conserraritKi. 

COVE R: Phayre's leaf monkey Preshytis {=Tnx-irypi!t!eais t f>btt)irri in ?utni, Karimganj district. The entire population of this rare 
primate in Assam is outside thcprotcctcd areas (also sec p32) ■ 



A decade of conservation: 

The Rhino Foundation for nature in NE India, 1994 - 2004 

ANWAHUDDHS Choudhury, Henomy Chief Executive 


The Rhino Foundation for Nature in 
North East India, a leading non- 
governmental organisation (NGO) uf 
the country continued its conservation 
activities. The Foundation has completed 10 
years of existence (founded in 1994) and 
during tliis decade tliis NGO has worked for 
the conservation of wildlife in north cast 
India. The organisation stuck to its objective 
of maintaining sustainable use of natural 
resources for a healthy development of 

future generations. The Foundation 
continued its appeal for support for this 
important cause from ad concerned. 


The projects undertaken and completed 
since its inception were explained and listed 

in details in the previous issues of this 
newsletter (AV/JJunc 2001; pp. 1-5, No. 4 June 
2002i pp. 1-4; NftS f June 2003; pp. 1-4) and arc 
also summarised here in Table 1. During the 
last year, the Rhino Foundation had undertaken 
conservation projects in the protected areas 
and their fringes in Assam and a survey project 
in Aninachal Pradesh. Ekewhere in the region, 
the network, which was established with other 
NGOs as well as governmental agencies, has 

been maintained through regular contact. 

Treatment of patrolling elephants in 
the protected areas 

One of the main projects that are nearing 
completion was veterinary care for the 
patrolling elephants of different protected areas 
of Assam. It was supported by US Fish & Wild- 

Table 1: Major Projects completed/ongoing 

81 No. 

Name Ymt 



Field staff equpment 


Funding: Own sources. Completed, 




Funding: Own sources. Completsd. 


Repairing ol wreless. Reward, elc 


Fundinj. Own sources. Completed. 


Forest Guard Equipment 


With support from Rhino A Tiger Consprvainn Fund IRTCF) 
of United States Fish & Wildlife Service {USFWSI. 


Posl-flood emergens assistance 


Supported by Rhino Rescue Trust, UK. Completed. 


Aid to Kaiiranga (repairing of 


Supported by WWFTjger CDnsefvation 
Programme (TCP). Compleled. 


Wireless Syslems 


With support from RTCF of USFW5, Completed, 




Supported by Fauna & Flora International, JK. Completed 


Support to Orang national pan 


Supported by ww-Tiger CDnservation Programme (TCP). 


Support to Nameri rational part< 


Supported by WWF-TCP. Completed. 


Veterinary camp for patrolling 


2001 -02 

With support from Ass an Elephant Conservation Fund 
(AECF) of USFWS. Nearinq OOmpWw. 


Suney of birds and mammals of 
Dibang-Qhang Biosphere Reserve 


Supported by Ministry of Crvironmerrt & rcfests, 
Goverrment ol Irdia. Ongonq. 


Anti-poaching support to 
Nongkhyliem sanctuary, yiegbaiaya 


With support from Ass an Bephant Conservation Fund 
i^ecf) ol usfws To stan 500n 

I |hy kyw-\ Newsletter * 3W4 

Table 2: Veterinary Care Camps for Patrol Elephants 



Date of Car rip 



Manas natonalpartt 

3 SFetruar, /::::> 2 


rlamcri national pork 

19-21 January 2002 


Prang national park 
Pabitora wildlife sanctuary 

5-7 January 2002 

29-30 Decenber 2001 



Kazlranga natio nal park 
Manas national park 

2 Februa ry and 1 -2 March 2003 


29-30 March 200 J 


Hamen na:ianal par* 

1 3-1 5 July 20CZ: 11-2*- F-f?t :ruary 2003 


Qfarif] natinnal park 

16-1 S June 2002 


Fabitcura wldlife sanctuary 

25-26 May 2002 




Ka7iranna national nark 

Mhmhh national park 

Nameri national park 

Orang national park 

20-21 July: '6-17 August: W and 14-16 November 2003 

31,34,46 26 

2S-29 June and 15-26 Octcber 2003 


3 May 2003 


May 3003; 24 26 January and 21-22 February 2004 


Pabitora wildlife sanctuary 

26-27 April, S June and 6 September 2003 







life Service under its Asian Elephant 
Conservation Fund. Although the project 
was meant for one year only, it continued 

for four years. Trie camps urgatusccl s>o fat 
and other detail* are given in Tahle 2. Since 
further support for this important project 
has not been received, it will end by 2004. 
The patrol elephants are essential for 
preferred areas, such as, Manas, 
Nameri, Orang and Pabitora. They not only 
provide the Forest Guards a vantage 
p.jsit km but can also take them any-wherc in 
the park. These elephants have become very 
effective against the poachers in tall 
grassland habitat. The veterinarians who 
had participated* in the camps were 
members of Early Birds, a Guwahati-based 
NGO with experience of sjmilar activities 
and individual experts such is Dr 
K.K.Sharma for specialised treatment. 

Survey of birds and mammals in 
Dibang-Dihang Biosphere Reserve 

Due to non-release of second instalment, this 
surrey could not be done throughout the 

winter. A brief survey was done in Dibang 

Valey and Upper Dibang Valley district in 
Arunachal Pradesh in March 2004. The main 
focus ot this survey was documentation of 
birds and mammals of this poorly known 
biosphere reserve. The most important find of 
this brief fieldwork was the record of the 
E&cently discovered leaf muntjac Muntiaats 
pMtaoensis. Dibang Valley is a new site fot this 
species, which is also the northernmost in its 
range (also see 'Briefly'). Takin Budotraf 
taxicoior, Sclatet's Monal Lopbophonts sdateri and 

Oarlt-tkroated Thrush Tardus mditoiSr (on 

passajrt) were also recorded. The survey was 
interrupted by heavy rain followed by 



Ranger Mr L. Ramchiary on patrot in Bhuyanpara, 
Manas na*ioial park with nwtorcycte provided by the 
Rhino Foundation. Phota Anwaruddin Choudhury 

Manas - World Heritage Site in 

The Rhino Foundation has donated a 
motorcycle to this famous national park for 
use by the Ranger of Bhuyanpara Range. Till 
now, this hyke remains rhc only mode of 
transportation in this remote range of Manas 
national park. Pigmy hog Sus sahanius, tiger 
Panthera tigris, clouded Icopatd Neofei's 
wkulosa, Asiatic or Himalayan black bear 
Vrsus tbibitanus, elephant Eiepbas maximus^ 
gaur Bos iQttms y wild water buffalo Bubalus 
arrser anci Denial Florican 1 louirarot>sis 
bengpleasis still occur in Bhuyanpara Range, 
which also includes Koklabari area. A couple 
of stray rhinoceros Mmcceros unicornis were 

also reported. 

Book release 

Mark Shand, the well known British autior 
had released a book entided 'Birds of 
Kasgremga: a ckek&sf, written and illustrated 
by the honorary Chief Executive (G3.) and 

published by the Rhino foundation during 
the Elephant festival at Kazir&nga on 1 
February 2004. Piadyut Borcobi , Assam's 

Minister for Environment &. Forest and late 
Indira Miri noted litterateur and wife of one 
of the pioneer Forest Officers of Kaziranga, 
late Mahi Miri were also present. 

Mow wildlife sanctuaries in Assam 

Three new wildlife sanctuaries have been 
notified in Assam in June 2004. All these were 
initially surveyed and propped by toe 
honorary C.E. of the Rhino Foundation in 

AMCHANG wJdlife sanctuary 79 km 2 , is 
located near GuwAhaii, I lie capiial chy of 
Assam. This area was recommended for the 
first time fot protection of its isolated eiephant 
popjlation in 1985 and then for its gaur and 
proximity to Guwahati city (sec Newsletter of the 
Rhino Foundation No. 4). 

BARAIL wildlfe sanctuary, 326 km 2 , is 
located in Cachar district of southern Assam. 
This area was recommended for protection of 
its overall biodiversity with special focus on 
primates in 1988 and 1985. Seven species of 
primates are found. Among threatened birds, 
there are Rufous- necked Hornbill Astros 
nipaknsii and Beautiful Nuthatch Stitaformosa. 

DIHING-PATKAI wildlife sanctuary, 111 km 2 , 
is located in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts 

of eastern Assam, This area was recommended 

for protection of its primates in 1989 and for 
significant population of White- winged Wood 
Puck Camna scutulata in 1996. The well known 
rainforests of Upper Dihing and Joypur forms 
part of this sanctuary. 


4 Th f RFMF. I Newsletter No 6 • 2004 

Table 3: Poaching of Rhinoceros in key P.A.s since 1998 compared to 1090, 1992 1993 

Protected Atm 











Kaziranga NP 
















PaDitora WS 





















up to 30 Nevember 2004; aome poaching did lake place elsewhere, e.g.. 4 in 2003 and 2 ir 2TXW. 

Other activities 

Other activities included maintenance of a 
network of informers around the key 
protected areas. These informers, who may 
never get open recognition, have played an 
important role in checking poaching, 
especially of rhinoceros. This along with 
continued governmental effort as well as 
input from other NGOs had yielced 
excellent results. The poaching figures of 
rhinoceros in Orang and Kaziranga national 
parks and Pabitora sanctuary indicate the 
scenario (Table 3). 

Appendix 1 and 2 list some of the main 
items donated and also construction w T orks 
by this foundation for a quick reference. 

Assam Forest Policy 

The government, of Assam has accepted 
with isnmf modifications the State Forest 
Policy, which was drafted by a committee 
that included the honorary Chief Executive 

(('.!•'..} nl' i':un li umkui m. Th< committee 
wai headed by Dr Anil Gcswami. 


The foundation has maintained its net- 
work with different governmental agencies, 
NGOs and individuals across the Nli India 
as well as outside. Moreover, the foundation 
has also maintained links with its network of 
informers in different parts of the region. 

Awareness* motivation, etc. 

l"hc honorary C.E. had delivered a number 
of popular talks with slide- shows and also 
distributed posters across the northeast. 
Informal meetings with villagers as Dart of 
awareness campaign were also held in some 

remote areas such as Hunli in Arunachal 
Pradesh, and Tuensang, Noklak, Baghty, 
Chongtongya, Khonoma, Poilwa and Fangsha 
in Nagaland. A booklet entitled A pocket guide 
to the birds ofNaga/andwiiS released by the Head 
Gaon Burha of Kohima in February 2004. 

Meetings, workshops, etc 

The honorary C.E. had participated in the 
World Parks Congress at Durban, in Republic 
of South Africa in September 2003. In 
February 2004, he attended a summit meeting 
on vultures at Kathmandu. In March 2)004, he 
visited Andamans as a member of an 'Expert 
Committee* on domestic elephants set up by 
the Ministry of Environment & Forests, 
Government of India. In April 2004, he 
participated in the International Galliform 
Symposium held at Dehra Dun where he 
presented a status report on the gllifotme* of 
NE India. 

Awaeness drive: ihe honorary C.E. lalking to a Chang 
Naga villager at Tuensang village, Nagaland. 


Census of Wild buffalo 

Thi: honorary C. M. had participated in a 
census operation for the endangered wild 
water buffalo in Manas national park in 
March 2004, 

Repairing of equipments 
The following items vital for anti-poaching 

activities in Pobitora wildlife sanctuary uiere 

repaired: motorcycle (l) f wireless hand sets 

(8), adapter (5) and battery charger (3). 

Newsletter No. 6. 

Like previous issues, this issue has also 
maintained high standard with a number of 
distinguished contributors from India and 
abroad, who are well known in their 
respective field of activities. 


The Trustees of the Rhino Foundation 
for their continuing support. The US Fish 
& Wildlife Service and the Ministry of 
Environment & Forests, Government of 
India for their support, which enabled 
project activities in the field. 

We are grateful to David Fergnsson, Fred 
Bagley and Carl Stromeyer of US Fish & 
Wildlife Service; Bob Risebrcugh (expert on 
vulture disease); S, S. Bist, Director, Pi eject 
Elephant, Government of India; and 
S,S*Samant of G.B,Pant Institute of 
Himalayan Environment & Development 

The support and assistance of die following 

are also grate-Filly acknowledged: in Assam* 
Pradyut Bordoloi, Minister of Environment & 
Forest; L. Rynjnh .,rn] P. P. Varma, Principal 
Secretaries, Forest; S. E>oley, PCCF; M. C. 
Maluku, CCF (wildlife); Chohan Doley and 
Ms Juri Phukan, both Addl. Deputy 
Commissioners; N. Vasu, Director of 
Kaziranga; A. Rabtia, Director of Manas, R K. 
Das, R P Phukan. S. Motrin (all DFOs); 
Dharanidhar Bora, Mrigen Barua, M. Brahma, 
L. K. Ramchiar/ (all Range Officers) and other 
staff. In Anmuibal Pradesh* wc thank S, N. 
KaLta and S, K Raha, both CCF (wildlife). 

For their continued support, we thank: in 
Assam, Anil Goswami ot WWF, Bikul 
Go&wami of G recti Heritage, Moloy Baru&h of 

Early Birds, Bibhab Talukdar, Fiioz Ahmed, 
Rabin Barman and Bibhuti Lahkar of 
Aaranyak, Kulojyoti lahkar, Bhargav Das of 
Green Society, Tridib Phukan, H. P. Agarwalo 
and Atul Borgohain (last three of Assam 
Bhoreli Angler's Association), Joynai Abedin 
ol Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife Society, Ixtrur 
Rahman and others of As&am Co.; : in 
Naga/ard, Neisatuo Keditsu, Tsile Sakhire, 
Tsangcrungla Imlong, H. Shou. Khekiho Sohe, 
and Thomas Ken: of Nagaland, late Abdul 
Rashid of Orang, Montu Nath, Dilwar Husain, 
and Belinda Wright of Wildlife Protection 
Society of India, New Delhi. 

Lastly, the small staff of the Rhino 
Foundation based at Guwahiti and KolkafJ 
whose untiring efforts ensured that the works 
arc being completed with success. 

Appendix 1 : 

Donation and construction of some major items since 1995 

Protected Area 








P. Pa* 








Kazirsnga ^P 




Nameri NP 





27 km 






Orang NP 











Fiibiluia YV5 









Manas NP 















27 km 






AP Carvp- constmcticn of anti-poaching camp; P Fa1h= lying of patrolling pair*: TL- tarpaulin (53'x12' sheets). 

6 Tire RFNHI NraUrtcr No. 6 2004 

Appendix 2: Donation of some other items since 1995 

Protected Area 




4 I S 






11 I 12 I 13 

I ,__ ... L. ._ — 

Bamadi MS 























Dibu-S^ikhowa NP 








Kaziranga NP 









" 130 




Laokhowa WS 













Manas NP 








Nameri NP 









Orang NP 












3 3 

Patsiora WS 

























6 3 

1= raincoat: 2* warm jersey; 3=jacKel, 4=uriifonn (pairs); b= huntingboot (pairs); fi= haversack: 7= drnking water-tiller; 
9= water-Utter candle; 9= hurricane lanlem; 10= torch ight; 11= torch battsry; 12= wireless antennae: 13= ertra wireless 
' = shared betweeen Nameri and Ekirhachapoi; Fire-crackers were also derated to Pabitoca for anti-depredation, 

1994 Founded by some Ike-minded conservationists 
and tea companies. Concerned about the endangered 
wild Wo species in north east India with the Indian 
tiinoceros as its flagship species. 
1996 Started functioning with Mrs Anne Wight MBE as 
tie founder Chairperson, Dr Anwaruddfn Choudhury as 
1m founder Chief Executive (C.E), and R. Adige, K. S. 
David, R. L Pikhye and M. P. S Sdhu as the founder 
Trustees. The proposed site For mega-cement plant near 
Balpakram naliona paik in Meghalaya surveyed. The 
campaign that followed resulted in shelving of the proect. 
Field stafl equipments donated to Kaziranga and other 
protested areas in Assam, Veterinary care and 
awareness camps organised. Two posters on 
endangered species and a report entitled. Survey of 
midlife in Bherjan, Botajan & Podumonf RF$ wUh a 
proposal tor a wKStie sanctuary produced. 
1996 The first issue nf Newsletter published Invited 
Dave Fergussbn o" the US Fish & Wildlife Service and 
organised meeting with late Nagen Sharma, then Forest 
Minister cl Assam. The result was the beginning of a 
long-term conservation programme which benefited 
government of Assam and other NQOs. Organised World 
Environment Day function at Guwahati in collaboration 
with Explorers (NGO). Field staff equipments donated to 
protected areas in Assam. Veterinary care and 
awareness camps organizec. By the end of he year. 
Anwaruddn Choudhury left the post of C.E. hut continued 
as the honorary C. E. 

1997. Provided equipments to Forest Guards in 

Kaziranga and other protected areas. 

1996. Emergency assistance to Kaziranga after a deva- 

stating flood. The 2 nd issue of Hewslettet pubished. 

1999. 3 rovided new wireless sets to Orang and Pabitcra. 
The government of Assam notified Eherjan-Borajan- 
Podumonl Wildlife Sanctuary, the proposal for when 
was published by the Foundafon. 

2000. Four anti-poaching camps constructed in Orang. 
Molorcycies donated to O'ang and Pabrtora. 

2001 . inducted as member of the Indian Board for Wild 
Lift, the highest body h the country, chaired by tic 
Pime Minister. Provided motorcycles to Nameri and 
Kaziranga. The 3^ issue ct A/ewstefler published. 

2002. Petifoned befcre Hie Ministry of Road Transport & 
Highways, govt of hdia for permanent rumble strips 
near Kaziranga lo reduce dea:h of anirrals. The Ministry 
vtie its letter No. NH-12O3759/20O2-AS/NH-1C dated 
May 27, 2002 agreed. The 4* issue of Newsletter 
published, veteinary care camps for patrol elephants. 
Faunal survey in Dibang-Dtiang biosphere reserve, 
Arunachal Pradesh, The honorary C. E joined Environ- 
ment & Forest tepartmeni, Assam as Joint secretary. 
2003 The veterinary care for patrol elephants and faunal 
survey in Dibang-Dihang in Arunacha Pradesh conti- 
nued. The S Ui issue ct Newsletter published. The 
government of Assam notified a new wildlife sanctuary. 
Nambor-Doigrung identfied as pDteniai site and then 
proposed in 1980s by the Honorary rj. e. 

2004. The government of Assam no'ified three new 
wildlife sanctuaries, Amchang, 3aral and Dihing- 
Palkai iUenlifiwj as potential sites and "hen proposed In 
1980s by the honorary C. E. A conservation project (ft* 
poaching sjpport) in Nongkhyllem wildlife sanctjary in 
Meghalaya initiated. □ 


Kaziranga: the century's greatest conservation success 
Pradytjt Bordoloi* 

The Kaziranga national park, a World 
Heritage Site and a globally 
recognized biodiversity hotspot is on 
the threshold of celebrating its 100 years of 
glorious existence. Kaziranga typically 
reflects the flavour of extremely rich tropics I 
forests and grasslands of Assam. 

Assam is known habitat of about 3020 
species of flowering plants and a good 
number of medicinal plant*, which include 
several rare, endangered and endemic 
species. In addition, there arc about 193 
species and subspecies of mammals, 45 of 
which are endangered, and nearly 820 specks 
of birds besides innumerable types of reptiles 
tnd amphibians. 

Kaziranga has achieved remarkable success 
in ennservarion of the great Indian one- 
horned rhinoceros Rhiaocems unicornis, now 
being described as the 'greatest conservation 
success story of the century*. It is an 
ours-anding example of ongoing significant 
ecological and biological processes in the 
evolution and development ot tloodpiain 
ecosystem and communities of plants and 

animals. This World Heritage Site has deep 
linkages with intra-community existence 
offering a broad canvas ot eco- biological 
diversity. While celebrating the centenary, 
Kaziranga would show case this eco- 
biological process in the evolution as well is 
the life styles, cuisine, artifact, handloom 
and handicrafts besides the traditional 
knowledge base of the ethnic communities 
who live in the fringe areas. 

Kaziranga is one of the largest national 
parks in India and one ot" the most signi- 
ficant protected wildlife habitat* on the 
globe. From the time it was declared a 
proposed reserve forest in 1905 for the 
conservation of the grent Tidian one-horned 

The rumbar of tiinoseroe in Kaziranga has increased 
from a few dozens to more than 1600 during the past 
100 years. Photo. Arwaruddin Choudhu'v 

rhinoceros, it has become an exceptional role 
model in conservation besides providing an 
ideal habitat for numerous other ducatcned 
species. It is a symbol for the dedicated 
commitment of the people who work 
ceaselessly to protect and preserve this richly 
d: verse biological heritage. 

While Kaziranga has deservedly earned the 
distinction of being the century's greatest 
conservation success story and the great 
Indian one-horned rhinoceros being projected 
as the USP for the park, the time has come to 
project the other dimensions of park, i.e., its 
priceless biodiversity. The centenary celebra- 
tion is just an occasion to highlight the bio- 
diversity* of the entire northeastern region 
creating awareness among its own people for 
protection and conservation of the bio- 
diversity of this part of the globe. That is why 
the Kaziranga centenary's one of the 
highlights is to hold a ' Biodiversity Flame 
March' emanating from each of the state 
capitals of the eight states of the north eastern 
region and convening in Kaziranga , which 

a The RKNEI Mmltrw No. & ■ a*H 

will be received by the hon'ble Prime 
Minister of India on the 13* of February 

The centenary celebration would also be an 
occasion to hold perhaps the largest conger- 
gation of wildlife experts and biodiversity 
conservationists in this region coming from 
different parts of the world to share 
knowledge, experience and to debate and 
discuss for charting a road map for tackling 
the conservation issues, which are posing as 
challenges affecting biodiversity conservation 
in this part of the globe. Besides the frills, 
the centenary centenary will have brain- 
storming and inlet active sessions on four key 
areas such as grassland management, human- 
wildlife coexistence, avifaunal diversity and 
its conservation, and nature tourism for 
sustainable cornmjnity jjarticipaiion, and 
finally 'Vision Ka2iranga - beyond 2005'. 
The now famous 'Elephant Festival' of Assam 
conceived two years back , as a conflict 
resolution strategy to acawitjge people for 

The centenary celebration will 
endeavour to showcase not only 
the priceless biodiversity but also 
put Kaziranga as a hub for 
dynamic aspects of conservation, 
research, education and recrea- 
tion values in the next century. 

addressing the human - elephant conflicts 
would be another attraction of the centenary 

The centenary celehrarion will endeavour to 
showcase not only the priceless biodiversity 
but also put Kaziranga as a hub for dvnamic 
aspects of conservation, research, education 
and recreation values in the next oentury.D 

prodyut bordclqi, Minister of Slate nndeaendenl 
cnarge). Environment & Forest Department, Government 
of Assam, Dispur, Gtwahati 781 006. India. 
Email: satadalb£002©)fdtwo.ccm 


11 Ffchruary 2005 Showcase Kaziranga 

12 February 2005 Inauguration 

13-16 February 2005 Brainstorming Sessions [international seminars; 

venue, interpretation center, Kohora] 

* Grassland management, • Human-wildlife coexistence, • Nature tourfsm, 

* Avifaunal diversity and its conservation, • Vision Kaziranga - beyond 2G05 

17 February 2005 Closing ceremony 

Other highlights: Plephant festival, photo exhibition, crafts A handloom bazaar, adventure 
sports, jeep safari elephait safari, trekking, bihu, food festival, cultural 
festival, river cruise, etc. 

contact*: Secretariat, Kaziranga Centenary Celebration, Assam State Zoo Gu#ahati 
781005. Assam. Tel>91-361-2461727: Telefax +91-361-2454560. 

Webste: Email: irtfoQkaziranoa1QO.ccm:Dna 

The idM af organising the centenary' of KAZIftANGA was mooted by Pradyul BordoJai, 
Minister of Environment d Forest, Assam m the year 2003 -04. 

ABT1C.1JS 9 

Has the tiger a future in India? 


The Indian subcontinent, including 
India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangla- 
desh, is home to more tigers than any 
other area in Asia, and of more than 

half of all the estimated surviving tigera, 

which may number between 5,000 and 7,001). 
Most of the tigers are in India, but those in 
Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh are stiL parr 
of the "Indian" population. Given rhdr 
number, the subcontinent's tigers would 
appear to ha* T e the best probability for long- 
term survival. However, they arc subject to a 
number of serious threats, and there is an 
argent need for action. 

It is now 30 years since tiger conservation 
began in the subcontinent. Before that, ji 
the IWvfk, the tiger had no protection; 
trophy hunters were living in to join Indian 
huners; skins were being exported in the 
hundreds to western markets. Early 
extinction seemed a possibility. Then came 
Indira Gandhi's initiation of Project Tiger in 
India in the early 1970s, and conservation 
prugrai nines were launched in Nepal and 
Bangladesh, In the following years, with 
rising tiger and prey populations reported, 
there was growing optimism about the tigers 
fuiuic, which led to complacency. 

It all changed in the 1990s with the 
revelation that many of Ranthambhore s 
world-famous tigers had been poached for 
bones. It quickly became clear that poaching 
was widespread, particular!/ in northern and 
central India. In fact, suspicion that tiger 
bones had become the poachers' target had 
arisen in 1986 when some tigers disappeared 
from Dudhwa, but it was not folowcd up. 
It turned out that tiger bones were in 

demand in China for medicines for 
rheumatic diseases. China's bone stocks, 
based on the 3,000 South China tigc.s 

known rn have heen killed in the early 1950s 
as pests, had presumably run out; China 
needed bones from other tiger countries. 

Tigers were poached in Myanmar, Vietnam, 
Cambodia and Thailand, but India was the 
richest target. Nepal, conveniendy lodged 
between India and Chinese-ruled Tibet, had 
become home to thousands of Tibetan 
refugees, many of who still had links with their 
homeland and for whom there was money in 
the trade. The first major seizure ot tiger 

Wncs (400 kg) in Delhi in 1993 revealed die 

Tibetan connection. It led to a call by the 
Dalai Lama to people to remember their 
Buddhist faith and to retrain from killing and 
trading tigers. 

It made no difference, and to this day 
Tibetans are playing a key role in the illegal 
trade, as arrests in India and Nepal have 
shown when contraband tiger (and leopard, as 
well as other species) parts have been seized. 
The seizures probably represent only 10 per 
cent of the animal parts being moved out of 

A tiger skin beng sun dried in Luhil dblricl, Arunachal 
Pradesh. The number of unrftported cases of poaching 
of tigers for bone and sWn is on the rise. 

PUota Anwanjddln GhDudhury 

1Q IK RFNEI Ncwtktttr Np. fi : 2W4 

Emphasis on the bone trade arid on tigers 
has overshadowed the high roll nn leopards-, 
most seizures include six or more times as 
mam- leopard skins as tiger. And it is this 
skin trade drat has become aauilier major 
threat to both big cats. From Decern her 
2002 through 2003. hundreds of skins have 
been seized; truckloads heading for Nepal or 

for north-cast India. Tanning factories have 

been found in UP towns and in Delhi, where 
the skins were treated and marked as for 
legitimate trade. 

During the recent Conference of the 
Partes of the Convention on International 
Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 
Bangkok in Uctober 2004, the London - 
based Environmental Investigation Agency 
(E1A) released a frightening report on the 
skin trade. It recalls that in October 2003, 
Chinese customs officers stopped a truck 
heading for Lhasa with the skins of 31 tigers, 
581 leopards and 778 otters, which had 
come from Delhi. It lists 29 seizures from 
July 1999 to July 2004 in which nearly 1,200 
leopard skir.s and 80 tiger skins, as well as 
about 20,000 tiger claws were recovered. 
Most seizures were in various parts of India, 
with four in Nepal, and five in China. 

. , . in October 2003 , Chinese 
customs officers stopped a 
truck heading for Lhasa with the 
skins of 31 tigers, 581 leopards 
and 778 otters, which had come 
from belhi. It fists 29 seizures 
from July 1999 to July 2004 \r\ 
which nearly 1,200 leopard skins 
and 80 tiger skins, as well as 
about 20,000 tiger claws were 

The report said: "Traders in Tibet have told 

the PI A that they sell tiger and leopard skins 

to wealthy Chinese and (visiting) Europeans, 
while skin is also used locally as trim on 
traditional costumes" 

F.I A applauds the efforts of the authorities 
to fight the trade, but says much more needs 
to be done, £nd, above all, there needs to be 
p.. >l ideal will u:> conserve India's wildlife 
heritage. The illegal trade is well organised, as 
shown by the arrest of tribals from Madhya 
Pradesh with poaching equipment in 
Nagaraholc national park in Karmiaka, who 
had dearly been commissioned by traders. 

The trade in tiger and kopard parts is clearly 
growing and further threatening the future of 
the big cats, especially the tiger, because there 
is. probably, less than one half as many is 
there are leopards. We do not know exactly 
how many tigers there ire in India, Official 
statistics from tiger pugmark censuses put the 
number at 3,600 in 2001-02. But emincn: tiger 
experts, such as Valmik Thapar and P.K Sen 
(former Director ot Project Tiger) say they 
believe there are many fewer, perhaps only 
2,000 - abour the same as when Project Tiger 
was launched in 1973. 

The 2001 census in India recorded a human 

population of 1,028,6 1 G>32£ (just over one 

billion) - that is nearly twice £s many people as 
in 1971, just before Project Tiger w T as 
lajnched. That means that there ;s a great deal 
more pressure on protected areas and other 
wild habitats for living space and 
development The tiger population is now 
fragmented like an archipelago and, according 
to the official figures; only Ccrbert, Kanha and 
the Sandarban out of the 27 Project Tiger 
reserves have populations estimated at over 
100. Nine reserves have 30-100 tigers; the rest 
hetween 4 (Dampha in Mi2oram) and 50. 

Ranthambhore's tigers have recovered since 
the early 1990s poaching disaster, when the 
population was said to have fallen below 20 - 
there are now 35. Such low numbers pose 

flRTTCLH 11 

genetic problems, which may arise from 

interbreeding. In the ease of Ranthurnhhore,. 

it must be remembered that when it was 
declared a tiger reserve in 1973, the number 
of tigers was in the low teens, and so die 
population has suffered two "bottlenecks". 
There have been no apparent deleterious 
effects from inbreeding, such as lower 
reproduction, but Dr Stephen Mills, a British 
tiger expert with a wide knowledge of India, 
believes there has been an effect. In his 
recent book, Tjgnrr" (BBC 2004) he noted 
that natural aggression between tigers 
seemed tn have diminished, and the reason 
could be that they are now closely related 
and recognise each other as extended family 

Conservationists see the Linking o fie serves 
by corridors through which tigers could 
migrate and spread their genes as a way to 
mitigate the generic problem. But 
establishing corricors is very difficult. Much 
of the land between reserves has been settled 
and developed so that there is a barrier :hat 
would prevent tiger migration. Ever, where 
forest corridors sail exist, they could not be 
closed to people, most of who fear tigers. 

The social organisation of tigers is an 

obstacle to the translocation of one or two 

tigers from one reserve to another to spread 
genes. Tigers do not welcome strangers, and 
translocation could result in- fighting causing 
death anc disruption, leading to a waste of 
investment in an expensive operation. 

It is unfortunate for wildlife thar many 
Indian reserves contain rich mineral reserves 
so that there is great pressure for mining, 
and illegal operations. There is also a 
growing interest by central and state 
governments in promoting "eco-tourism" 
centres or theme parks at popular reserves. 
Tnc Indian Suntiaiban appears likely to be 
invaded by s massive centre proposed by the 
Sahara group, apparendy backed by the West 
Bengal government. A theme park has been 

proposed with water sports at the lake in the 

centre of the Pench Madhya Pradesh and 

Pench Maharashtra tiger reserves, where 
fishing was stopped because it was considered 
a threat. Ranthambhore's director faces heavy 
pressure from tourist organisations tn increase 
the already excessive number of vehicles in its 
small area. 

I have not painted a hopeful picture of the 
tiger's predirarnenr. Tt is probable that tigers 
will vanish from some of the existing reserves, 
in which their numbers are low. Given their 
healthy numbers, Corbctt, Kanha and the 
Sundarban have good prospects. In the case of 
the Sundarban, which is divided between India 
and Bangladesh, tiger population censuses in 
2004 provided an estimate of nearly 700 (274 
in India and 419 in Bangladesh). Such figures 
arc viewed by specialists as grossly exagg 
crated. A pilot phototrap survey in the Indian 
Sundarban (2,585 km 7 ) led to speculation that 
there might be fewer than 100 tigers. In 
Bangladesh, the protected area for tigers 
covers 1,400 km 2 , but with somewhat better 
habitat than in India, there could be more 
tigers. Dr John Seidensticker, a leading tiger 
expert, with experience in the Sundarban, has 
made a rough calculation, based on tiger 

density in the rich Chitwan reserve in Nepal, 

tha: the whole area could support only a 
maximum of 250 mature tigers. That would 
mate it the second largest surviving tiger sub- 
population, after the Russian Far East, which 
has about 400 mature tigers. 

The future of the tiger looks bleak, but it can 
be improved with serious help. The tiger itself 
has shown that it can recover quickly from 
low numbers because it is highly reproductive. 
To give it that opportunity it is essential that 

The future of the tiger looks 
bleak, but it can be improved 
with serious help. 

12 The KEHH Newsletter No. i 2WH 

governments in India, Nepal, Bhutan and 
Bangladesh, and all authorities involved, 
demonstrate political will and rake effective 
action to save the tiger. It is part of their 
natural heritage, India's National Animal, 
and a key part of the natural environment 
and its wildlife. 
The political will must aim at: 

1. Protecting the tiger from poaching; 

and illegal killing'. 

This can only he achieved by 
strengthening anti-poaching and anti- 
illegal trade operations, and ensuring that 
the law is fully enforced by the courts. 
Where necessary, the law needs to be 

2. Protecting the habitat of die tiger. 
Erosion of protected areas by illegal 
business, such as mining, and by illegal 
settlements must be halted. 

3. Protecting the wild species 
associated with the tiger, especially 
those that are its prey. 

The natural wildlife uf protected areas 
must have the same support as that for the 

The natural world, which is the basis of all 
life, is suffering from human maltreatment 
almost everywhere. India, Nepal, Bhutan and 
Bangladesh have achieved a great deal in 

wildlitc conservation in recent times, at 

considerable expense. But more funding is 
needed. The international community is 
committed tc the cause; it has provided funds 
and equipment through governments and 
non-governmental organisations, and is willing 
to provide more, if it is assured that the 
authorities directly involved are actively 
dedicated to saving the tiger and ;ts world, □ 

* PETER JACKSON, Chairman Emeritus, Cat Specialist 
Group, World Conservation Union (iucn;, zy _ake Close, 
London SW19 7EG.UK. 

. . . it is essential that governments in India, Nepal, Bhutan and 
Bangladesh, at\d all authorities involved, demonstrate political will 
and take effective action to save the tiger. It Is part of their 
natural heritage, India's National Animal, and a key part of the 
natural environment and its wildlife. 

The political will must arm at: 

• Protecting the tiger from poaching and illegal killing. 

• Protecting the habitat of the tiger. 

• Protecting the wild species associated with the tiger, especially 
those that are its prey 

. . . The natural world, which \$ the basis of all life, is suffering 
from human maltreatment almost everywhere. 

— Peter Jackson 

Affliaii 13 

From the diary of a forest officer : with elephants and 
Verrier El win in Kameng 


Ir was in January 1971 while 1 was 
working for the reclamation work for 
the resettlement of the ex-servicemen at 
Seijosa in undivided Kameng Frontier 
Division of the North East Frontier Agency 
[NEFA] (now Arunachal Pradesh). It was in 
the interest of the area that the retired 
defence personnel were settled in NEFA, fur 
development and security purpose. The area 
selected was north of Assam - NEFA 
boundary and for this, natural virgin forests 
wers to be cleared for their homestead and 
agricultural field. Naturally these were habitat 
for wild animals including the elephant 

As the selected army personnels were of 
Punjab origin they wete very fond of 
cultivating ma be, sugarcane, etc., which were 
very lustrous to attract elephants. Hence they 
were very much disturbed by this animal. In 
order to give litem relief, the govtemment 
derided to kill the rogues under Elephant 
Contro Act prevalent at that time. Since I 
was from the Forest service I was asked to 

find out the actual rogues and arrange for 

their proclamation. 

I could find out two animals, one of which 
was appeared to be a very big makhana of 
recorded height and another was a full- 
grown tusker. The makhana was shot by an 
expert shikari, ex-Major Harcharan Sing who 
was a tea planter ol nearby Dikorai tea 
garden. I had estimated it to be of 10 feet 
anc eight inches in height but after killing it 
was actually found to be 10 feet and 10 
inches, the biggest wild elephant I have come 
across. It was shot down in the later part of 
December 1973 during my absence from the 
H,Q. In general, I used to accompany ex- 
Major Harcharan Sing in his quest for 'iie 
elephant by trekking. 

The turn for the tusker ae mentioned above 
came in the early part of January 19 7 1. 
Inforrnation was received about its 
near the ex-servicemen colony. We had started 
to track it out in the midday. He was moving 
inside thick bamboo forest with absolute 
sdence. The wind was in his favour and hence 
he could easily apprehend our movement. Wc 
found his fresh footmarks and dung but 
unable to trace him although he was very near 
to us. Such a big body was moving in the thick 
bamboo forest over die undulating ground but 
maintained absolute silence was something to 
remember. The circumstance was so critical 
that both the elephants and we were moving 
in the close pioxknity and anything might 
have happened had we faced each other, 

We had wasted about three long hours in 
search of it. It was becoming dusk and we 
wctc thinking to retreat. All of a sudden the 
wind direction changed and we heard the 
breaking of bamboo very near to us. He was 
spotted and a round of bullet was shot at him. 

14 The RFNF.1 Newsletter No 6 2004 

From up hills he was running down to the 
ravines and we followed him. During the 
course or this, suddenly I found myself in 
between the elephant and shikari. At this Sri 
Sing was perplexed as to what to do. 
Instantaneously I noticed a leaning bamboo 
in front of me with the help of which I 
climbed up and a bullet was shot to the 
elephant below mc. It immediately fell down. 
It was a beautiful noble animal with the 
magnificent tusk. It was for the excitement 
of the moment that my vocal cord was 
affected and I could not talk soundly fDr 
about 4/5 days. 

When I began my service career in 
NEFA on the 17* day of April 
1957, 1 was posted at Buuidiia, die 
district Headquarters of the then Kameng 
Frontier Division. Naturally I was very 
happy on obtaining my first posting at a 
district H.Q. *s a Forest Ranger. I was 
ignorant about the geography of the area and 
hence my dream was shattered when I learnt 
that I had to undertake 3 days road march! 
But then I could not rhink of blessings 
waiting for me where I met many 
distinguished personalities. Among them was 
Dr. Verrier Elwin, the renowned 
anthrolopogist, Adviser to the government 
and a close associate of Jawaharlal Nchrj, 
me then Prime Minister of India. Shortly 
after I had joined at Bomdila, 1 had to 

accompany him during his tour of Kamefig 

Frontier Division for indentifying the herbs 
and plants, which were used by the local 
people. I was with him for about 10 days 
during that tour. 

While returning from the field with Dr 
Elwin, we crossed Perila (Piri-la) peak 
1 1 1 ,000 ft above ii iciii sra level) on one ear.v 
morning of Ortoher 1 957. We came across 
fresh droppings of wild elephants ( smoke 

was still corning out) and h°ard the sound of 
breaking of bamboos. Dr. prevenccd me 
from looking for the elephants and asked me 
to follow him. 

While returning from the field 
with Dr Elwin, we crossed Perila 
(Piri-la) peak (11,000 ft above 
mean sea level) on one early 
morning of October 1957. We 
came across fresh droppings of 
wild elephants (smoke was still 
coming out) and heard the 
sound of breaking of bamboos . 
. . I was unaware that we came 
across a landmark record of 
elephants at 11,000 ft elevation. 

I was unaware that we came across a 
landmark record of elephants at 11,000 ft. 
elevation. According to other reeords, in the 
bamboo forests of Burma (Myanmar), it 
climbs up to a height of 10,000 ft (3050 m) 
while in Sikkim, tracks were seen in the snow 
at 12,000 ft (3660 m) above mean sea level 
(vide H.J.S. Lwes, journal of the Bombay Naturai 
History Seddf, Vol. XXIV, No. 2). Capt. A. L 
M. Molesworth (in Journal of the Bombay Natural 
History SaieJy, Vol. XXIII. No. 2) mentioned of 

elephants at 10,200 ft in BhutanTihct 


* K0RUNA DATTA CH0UDHURY, Indian Forest Service 
(retired). Honorary Wildlife Warden, F.O. 3rtatanipjr f 
District Barpela. Assam Phone 9i-3666-24as3i 

ttvnai: 15 

Conserving the pheasants and partridges off NE India 

Philip McGowan* 

North-east (NE) India is an excep- 
tionally important part of the world 
tor pheasants and partridges. Toge- 
ther with adjacent parts of south-west China 
and western Myanmar its high mountains, 
deep valleys and plains are home :o a diverse 
amy of habitats, which in turn arc home 10 a 
great variety of bird species. The recent 
description of a new subspecies of a bird as 
big as Sclater's monal Lopbopforus schkri^ 
which can weigh up to 2.5 kg and measure 
more than 6Scm from tip to tail suggests rhar 

new biological riches must remain to be 
discovered. However, what we already know 
about the pheasants arid partridges 
(Phasianidae) leaves no room for doub: of 
the importance of this comer of India. 

Starting with the key species, NE India is 
of worldwide significance for no fewer than 
six globally threatened species, which are all 
listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. A 
seventh species is the Endangered green 
peafowl Pavo mtttjeut, but it is unclear at 
present how important the region is for the 

world population. The most enigmatic of 

these six species is the Manipur bush -quail 
Pmiiaiia manipunnsis, which has not been 
recorded reliably since 1932, although there 
was an unconfirmed report from Dibru- 
Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary in March 1998. 
Also down to the grasslands of the p!ains 
and low hills is the swamp framtolin 
Franwiinm pilaris,, which is threatened 
throughout its range by drainage of its wet 
grassland habitat, and probably increasingly 
bv agricultural practices degrading its habitat 
and disrupting breeding attempts, 

Above these species he the hill forests that 
contain three threatened species: chestnut- 
brcasLed liill-pattudgc Arbcrvpbik mandeiiii, 
Blyth's tragopan Tra&pan biyibii and, Hume's 

pheasant Symatiats humat. Above these again 
Sclater's monal inhabits the high forest and 
sub-alpme scrub around and above die 
treeline. It must he said that our knowledge of 
the distributions of these species has taken 
in-cut st::ps forward in recent years through the 
dedicated efforts of a few key Indian 
ornithologists, but much remains to be 
unravelled. Two areas of future investigation 
are especially important. The first is obviously 
to rediscover the Minipur bush-quail. No 
sightings for more than 7 years mean that 
finding this species has to be one of NE 
India's highest conservation priorities, as it 
would confirm that the species has not gone 
extinct in the intervening period. 

The second important area of investigation 
is to determine which areas are the most 

significant for the long-term survival of these 

species, especially those that are threatened. 

This job is partly done, as we know that 
some of the existing protected areas ire sited 
where these species occur. However, what is 
less clear is whether, taking the North-east in 

Blah's 'rgopan is a rare pheasant of NE Inda 

Fhota Anwaruotiin Choudhury 

16 The RFNEI EJBltog Mo. 6 2M4 

its entirety., the protected area network offers 
the most efficient way of conserving these 
species, their habitats and the species that 
they live alongside. Therefore, a series of 
surveys, guided by a co-ordinated GIS 
analysis of pheasant and partridge 
knowledge, the distribution of habitats and 
Topography is badly needed. Planned well, 
the GIS analysis would identify current key 
areas and gaps in coveragt and knowledge 
and then pedier where surveys would be 
mosr useful. The results from the surveys 
would then help to refine the identification 
of a suite of key areas that could then be 
subject to mote sustained actions, such as 
formal protection or rhe development of 
community programmes designed ro ensure 
the use of forest resources is sustainable, 
both for people and for wild species. 

In order to develop such communitv- 
oricntated solutions, we must tackle the 
second substantial area of current ignorance, 
namely me way in which current pressures 
arc affecting pop ulauons of species. It is well 
known that habitat degradation and loss lead 
to populations becoming small and 
fragmented, bu: has this reached critical 
stages in NE India? Fur example, arc 
populations of Blyth's tragopan becoming 
too small and isolated from one another to 
survive in the long-term? Some populations 
have almost certainly become cxiinu, but we 
need to know what the critical factors are: 
for example, is there a forest size below 
which there is simply no point trying to 
conserve large ground birds such as 


In the last few years, we have become so 
aware of the scale of hunting of wild species 
for a variety of purposes: to prevent 
starvation, to provide protein diversity, for 
subsistence trade, for cultural reasons etc. 
Whilst much of the international focus has 
centred on large mammals in African forests, 
it is arguable that it is more likely that 

hunting will lead to species extinctions in Asia. 
This is because the densities of people are 
greater and the habitat fragmentation more 
advanced, both of which mean diat there arc 
fewer patches of habitat that humans are not 
travelling to in order to hunt. Recent surveys 
in some NR Incha forests have suggested that 
the 'empty forest' syndrome may be 
widespread as a result of ever increasing 
human incursions into forests. 

empty forest' syndrome may be 
widespread as a result of ever 
increasing human incursions into 

This leads us to probably the most urgent 
requirement in NE India at the present rime 
and that is £ detailed understanding of why 
people hunt and the impact that Jt has on 

populations of wild species. If people need to 

hunt for subsistence or it his been a part of 
their culture for many generations, then 
balances need to be found so that the species 
survive. From the human perspective, it is also 
surely impormnt to ensure that die species 
being hunted do not become extinct. If they 
do then subsistence needs will not be met and 
local traditions that rely on hunting or 

pheasant leathers for example will dit. 

Conservationists often demand urgent 
action and feel that research docs not deliver 
such action quickly enough. However, if there 
was a concerted effort to put in place the 

activities outlined above in the next 12-24 
months, then we could be building long-term 
and workable solutions within five years* The 
challenge now is to put together a consortium 
that has the motivation and ability to make 
this happen. D 

* FHILIP McGOWAN. Observation Drector, World 

Pheasant Association, UK. 

Email: ronsf rvafon Q pheasant.orq.ik 

Anne Wright Chairperson 
o\ The Rhino Fourdation 
handing over wireless sets 
at Pabitora sanc.uary. 

An anti-poaching camp 
constructed by The Rhino 
Foundation at 
Rongagorah, Orang 
national park. 

Mark Shand (left) releasing a book on 
birds of Kaziranga authored by the 
honorary CE (ight) in presence of 
Pradyut Bordolol, minister for 
Environment and Forest, Assam 


Top. A gaur in Manas national 
park, Baksa district; September 6, 

Bottom Forest Guards patrol 
Orang national park with 
motorcycles donated by The 
Rhino Fnundat on. 

Top. A juvenile rhino died after falling between 

rocks in Raja Mayong area of Pabitora 


Middle. New record! Openbill Storks nesting in 

bamboos at Biabanipur, Barpeta distric:. 

Bottom, Leaf dear skull, Nagaland 

Mystery macaques of Arunachal Pradesh 
Top. a 'first' male near Brokser, Tawang distrct; bottom left, a second 1 mae near 
Lamacamp, West Kameng district; bottom right, skin of an adult rrale at Taksing, Upper 
Subansiri dis'jict 


The story of The Rhino Foundation 

Anne Wright* 

It was a warm afternoon fa the summer of 
1994 when Samantak Das and I were 
driving past the Hathikuli Tea Garden 
bordering Kaairanga national park. As Trustee 
of WWF- India, I had come to meet various 
NGO's, We called on the Director of ths 
national park, Rumois of heavy poaching of 
rhino were the talk of the area, hut it was nnt 
freely discussed and wc had the feeling that 
the situation was not quite in control. A kind 
sponsor had donated a cash reward for several 
young forest guards, who had risked their lives 
in catching armed poachers. It was a great joy 
to be able to distribute the prizes, although so 
inadequate, to such brave young men. 

On driving past Hathikuli garden I don't 
know what second sense made us step to 
enquire if there was any rhino poaching in that 
area. Oh yes, said an innocent tea pkeker, 
mere were dead rhinos inside diis gulden over 
there. We slid our vehicle through a gate and 
as directed drove on through the garden 
towards the hills. An overpowering stench of 
death suuii drove us U> die spot where two 
massive rhinos Jay sprawled in the tea bushes, 
their horns torn from thc:r noses. A small and 
bedraggled man claiming to be a Forest Guard 
appealed and said on enquiry that armed men 
had come in the night Old shot the rhinos. 
Cowering in his small hul on the boundary of 
the tea garden, unarmed and frightened, he 
could only emerge when the raiders had gone. 

Taking pictures of ihis horrific scene, wc set 

An overpowering stench of death 
soon drove us to the spot where 
two mossive rhinos lay sprawled 
in the tea bushes, their horns 
torn from their noses. 

off to meet the tea garden Manager. These 

were the days of kidnapping and insurgency 
and die Manager Looked askance at my 
bearded Project Officer. He claimed he knew 
nothing about poached rhino on his 
premises, and argjed with our view that as a 
citizen of India he must help to protect such 
a valuable and endangered species. Incensed 
by his attitude, I was to meet his boss, Mr. 
Krishna Kumar, at a cocktail party- in 
Calcutta. To my great relict, he reacted 
strongly and positively. We became good 
friends and after several meetings, he 
decided to fund a special NGO to protect the 
rhinoceros. He pcrsonalh collected his many 
seniormost friends in the tea business to join 
the Board and contribuie funds. With his 
company's help, the deeds for the Rhino 

Foundation were drawn up. 

Thinks to his vision and his dedication to 
wildlife, our Foundation was registered. As 
luck would have it, Dt. Anwaruddin 
Choudhury, recommended to the Board by 
Mr. Ranjit Barthakur. was free to get a two- 
year Sabbatical from the Government of 
Assam to join as the first Project Director 
(designated as Chief Executive). 

At that rime, we were lucky enough to be 
able to raise funds for much needed projects 
to help the Forest Department, The Rhino 
Foundation were requested to supply rain- 
coats, jackets, torches and shoes which were 
supplied at cost by Batas, The Foundation 
went on to raise funds fur wireless systems 
in Orang and Pabirnra, and later through the 
Fauna and Flora International, funds were 
raised for mctorcyclcs. We have an ongoing 
project to treat domestic elephants in need 
ot veterinary medication. These are the 
wonderful animals on which the 
Forest Guards depend to protect the rhino 
from poachers who take advantage of the 

18 The RFNEI NawJetta- No 6 - 2XM 

The miracle of Kaziranga can be 
attributed, however to the 
dedication of the people of ^ssam, 
and a number of enlightened Forest 
Ministers, Many NGO's have rallied 
to the cause but ultimately it is a 
Government success story , which 
should stand as a shining example 
to the rest of India. 

dense, tall grasses. 

The same elephants give untold joy to 
visitors as they carry them into the Park, for 
the great experience of Kaziranga, 

Dr. Anwarucdin Choudnury has dedicated 
his life apart from his work to the cause of 
protecting wildlife and the forest. The Rhino 
Foundation has worked behind the scenes to 
influence the Government on many issues 

ranging from permitting "sleeping policemen" 

fo or spf^ breakers, to slow down trucks on 
the adjoining highway, to efforts to expand 
and reclaim forest land to increase the size of 
this small but beautiful Sanctuary. Although 
it is good news that there are additions to the 
Park, it is imperative that the encroachments 
(in addition areas) should be removed. 

The nixacle of Kaziranga can be 
attributed, however to the dedication of the 
people of Assam, and a number of 
enLghtened Forest Ministers. Many NGO's 
have rallied to the cause but ultimately it is a 
Government success story, which should 
stand as a shining example to the rest of 
India. The reward is the influx of foreign and 

local tourists. There is now wuddwidc 

appreciation of this great effort to protect 
the rhino and its very special homeland. □ 

* MRS ANNE WRIGHT mbe, Chairperson The Rhino 
Foundation, aoTdlygunge Club, 120 D.P.Sasmal Road. 
Kolkata 700 (83. imma. Email: wncht^onlvsmartcom 


Elephant management of 
Assam: an organic culture 


India's north east, particularly the state of 
Assam, is one of the last bastions of the 
_ Asian elephant, where, about 5000 of 
these magnificent beasts still roam the 
wildernesses of tropical forests and grass- 
lands. But what is perhaps even more 
heartening is that no less than 1500 of their 
brethren continue to thrive in captivity under 
the benign care of their human masters who 
have come to regard them as ones belonging 

to their own families. This is in no small 
measure a legacy of a rich tradition of 
keeping elephants in captivity by the 
inhabitants of this region that goes back to 
centuries. This tradition is w T ell documented 
in history, particularly i;i a number of 
treatises on elephants dating bark to ancient 
as well as medieval times. This explicitly 
illustrates the practice and tradition of 
keeping elephants in captivity by the region's 
royalty and elite down the ages. 

Certain ethnic tribes of this region, namely 
the Misrtgs, Mcmrts. Mataks* and Singpbos of 
eastern Assam and the Rabbas of south 
western areas of the state are the common 

\KUQ£ 19 

tribal people who have been keeping 
elephants in i very interesting organic kind 
of management oractice that need to be 
studied for documenting and illustrating this 
venerable and uniquely' subaltern culture and 
bringing their efforts and experiences to the 
attention of the mainstream discourse on the 
management of Asian elephants ir. captivity. 

Fuji: i I li it: aiii.iciil* up to the colonial 

occupation of Assam, the elephant played an 
important role in war, work and play. And it 
is evident from the historic source materials 
and even oral tradition of the dominant 
communities that this was mostly a privilege 
of the royalty and the elite. With the Bridsh 
annexation of Assam, this privilege was 
usurped by the new native feudal elite and 
their colonia masters who turned the 
elephant into an indispensable instrument in 
the enterprise of colonial exploitation of 
native resources. And while momentous 
post-colonial political, economic and 
technological changes brought about a rapid 
decline in this tradition, a substantial 
population of elephants in captivity 
continued to thrive. Primarily engaged in the 
regions timber industry, keeping them still 
remained a preserve of the rich and elite. 

The past decade then brought forth some 

new and acute challenges that have severely 
eroded not only this seemingly exclusive 
preserve of the rich but also even the riches 
of quite a few. 

Due to unsustainable over exploitation of 
its natural resources, the forest cover of 
Assam was found to have come down quite 
alarmingly from a minimum remmmenried 
33 per cent of the geographical area. The 
recommended minimum forest cover for the 
plain areas of the rest of the country is 22 
per rent, which is set af a higher 'eve] in this 
geographically fragile area like Assam. 
Greatly concerned at this, the Supreme 
Court of India had to ban all lugging Belated 
activities so as to allow the forest cover some 

time to regenerate. But as fallout :>t the ban, 
though welcome in the general context, the 
majority of the captive elephants of the region 
have become jobless and a big burden on the 
owners. Unable to bear the burden, the 
elephant keeping elites started to sell off their 
elephants. As a result of this exodus fur 
ex ample , the captive elephant population of 
Kerala suddenly swelled from 350 in 1996 to 
about 850 at present, from a meager 70 in 
19% to over 300 in Nepal. 

Ir. marked contrast however, the ethnic 
tribes mentioned earlier were never the elite 
nor did they ever posses the substantial 
fortune* their elite counterparts had, which 
largely enabled the later to maintain the means 
and retinue to keep elephants in captivity. 
Although the dominant tradition perhaps 
largely ignored them and certainly failed to 
illustrate their experiences, their way of 
elephant keeping has evolved into a more 
organic and symbiotic human-clcphant 

relationship, which has a far better chance of 

surviving the new economic and 
environmental challenges of keeping elephants 
in captivity. This is evident from the 
remarkable rate of reproduction and general 
well being of their elephants. 

Steps need to be taken towards a more 
systematic and comprehensive study of this 
organic culture that is a repository uf 
knowledge in management of Asian elephants 
in captivity. There is also an urgent need to 
document, understand, evaluate, adopt and 
institutionalise this repository of knowledge in 
the modern discourse of management of 
Asian elephants in captivity before it 
succumbs to the pressures of changing 
economic priorities of the modern age, D 

* D*\ KUShWL KONWAR SARMA, Associate Professor, 
College of Veterinary Science, Assam Agricultural 
University, Khanapara, 3uwahaQ781Q22, Assam, India. 

Email: kushalkonivar@holmall.ooro 

20 ThcRTNKI Newsletter N'n. f, 2XK 

Notable bird records from 
Kakojan reserve forest 


Iwa\ stationed in DoomDooma Forest 
Division, Tinsukia district, upper Assam, 
for a period of nine months from August 
2003 lu April 20C'4 t as pan of my official 
engagements. This gave me ample opportunity 
to explore the less-known reserve forests of 
the region and find out more about their 
denizens, especially biids. Among die 12 
patches of forests that I visited, Kakojan 
(23.46 km 2 ) was by far the most promising in 
terms of avifauna. My checklist at the end of 
the period (46 trips with a cumulative total of 
c 90 hours of hireling) stood at 119 species, 
which is a good number given the fact thai no 
intensive searches for any particular species 
was carried out anc that most of the 
observations were carried out well into and 
during the day, thus missing the peak activity 
time during dawn. 

Two Critically Endangered species, White- 
rumped Vulture Gy/a kengakmis, Slender- 
billed Vulture G. temtiroslris, and two Near 
Threatened species, Grey-headed Fish Eagle 

Ictbyiphcga idbyaetw, and Brown Hornbill 

AitorrbiUMs tickefli were sighted. 

Some other notable observations wetc; 
Goliath Heron Anita j-oiiatb. Two sightings in 
December, at the edge of Dibru river beyond 

White-hooded Babbler Gampivrhyncbm mfuim. 
K single sighting of a flock of c. 10 birds in 
bamboo jungle. 

Emerald Cuckoo Chrysottxcyx- maculates. Seen 
often in summer. No calls heard. 
Violet Cuckoo C xanlhitrhpttchut. A single 
sighting of a male b April. It was chased by a 
pair of Little Spjderhunters (brood parasite?) 
Wliite-bruwed Yuhina Ynbina ^anthekum. 
Three sightings; amidst bird - waves /mixed 

flock hunting parties with tits, minivcts, 
leaf warblers and white-eyes. 

Among other species recorded were, 
Jerdon's Baza Avicctta jerdmi, Bay 
Woodpecker B/jfbipims pyrrhotis, Spot- 
bellied Eagle Owl Bubc mpaknsis y Hair- 
crested Drongo Dtcmms hotentttfus, Spot- 
winged Starling \aroghss& spiioptera, Long- 
tailed Broadbill Psarisomus daihoustae y 
Brown-breasted Flycatcher Mstsricapa 
mttttui and Plaintive Cuckoo Cacmiantis 

It has also to be mentioned that this patch 
is known to support the extremely rare 
White-winged Wood Duck Gairs'aa 
scutulata, and the enigmatic Masked Finfoot 

Hehpais penmate (A.Choudhury, per&ttmm.), 
though I did not see them. Thus, though 
small in area, Kakojan has immense potential 
as an avifauna! habitat and has to be 
conserved Attempts to de-reserve small 
chunks for oil explorations is suie to spell 

doom to such last iciusuiiiug and fragmented 
pockets of the once contiguous aid 
extensive lowland wet evergreen forests of 
the 'Assam Valley 1 . □ 

Attempts to de-reserve small 
chunks for oil explorations is 
sure to spell doom to such last 
remaining and fragmented 
pockets of the once contiguous 
and extensive lowland wet 
evergreen forests of the 
'Assam Valley'. 

* MANOJ V. NAIR, Assam Stele Zoo, R.G.Baruah Road, 
Guwahafi-781005 r Assam, India. 


Special Report 


Anwahuddim Choudhurv 

An interesting primate belonging to genu* M acuta was sighted in \rc stern Arunachal 
Pradesh in 1 997 Thereafter the macaques were sighted on more occasions. Superficially 
similar to the Assamese macaques Macaca assamensis , this new - look macaque was 
tentatively identified as Pirre David's macaque Macau tbibetma. Also known as 

Tibetan macaque , it was known fmm rust-cenrral China only. Tht- only difference 
with the macaques in Arunachal Pradesh is the relatively longer tail in latter. Since there 
is large geographical range extending from easl-central China :o western Arunachal 

Piadcftli, k tuuld probably be a new subspecies of thibetaaa. The known subspecies of 
assamensis are also differentiated in the field by their relative tail-length. A recent move 
to describe a new species taking photos of sub-adult animals as holotypes and paratypes 
is perhaps rot correct as nobody would be able to examine these type specimens. 

Key words: Assamese macaque, Macata assamensis Pere Dav.d's macaque, Mataia 
thibeiana, Tibztan macaque, Arunachal Pradc5h 


The genus Macaca is represented in north 
eastern India by four species, arxtcides, 
assamensis^ mulatto and nemstrina (Choudhury 
1988, 2001). All these species also occur in 
Arunachal Pradesh (Choudhury 2003). The 
Assamese macaque is represented by both the 
known subspecies, astamensis and pe'ops. Ail 
these macaques have interesting tails, which 
are different from each other m length, shape 
and carriage. Focden (1982) had reviewed 
assamensis. Useful information is also found in 
Corbet and Hill (1 9')2), Rllerman and Morrison 
Scott (1951) and Pocock (1 939, 194.). 

A new Icok macaque troupe was spotted in 
western Arunachal Pradesh in 1997, which 

was tentatively identified as Perc David's or 

Tibetan macaque M. thibetam. Subsequently 
more troupes were sighted (Choudhury 1998, 
2000), M. thibetana was also reviewed by 
Foodcn (1983). Rccendy attempts have been 
made to claim fresh discovery and also to 
describe a new species (\Iishra et d. 2Q04; 
website of NCF). 

In this paper I report the original discovery, 
results of later surveys and discuss about the 
recent claims as sp. now. 

Study areas and methods 

The study area covered western Arunachal 
Pradesh, especially the districts of Fast and 
West Kameng, anc Tawang (26 o 55'-27°50 "N, 
91 C 35'-93°20'E). These mountainous districts 
cover various ranges of the Himalaya, with 
elevations ranging from 100 rn to more than 
7000 m above mean sea level (as!); however, 
rhc study was confined rc> below 4200 m. 

We surveyed the forests around Shcrgaon, 



Map showrig areas mentioned in ttie text 

22 The RFNFJ N sw sk«er No , fr 2 W4 

Tcnzinggang, Thungri, Nafra and Mandla 
Phudung in West Kameng and Zemithang, 
Nelya, Lumpo, T-gompha, Gorsam gompha, 
Lurnla, Tawang, Mukto, Jang, Gcshcla, 
Brokscr, New Mcling. Thingbu and Magu 
between 1998 and 2000. In 2001 , Chayangtajo. 
Bameng and Sepoa areas were surveyed; 
however, since 1989 parts of Changlang, 

Lorrit, East Sifting, West Siang and Subamsiri 

and Dibang vaLeys were also covered. During 
field study, the presence or absence of 
macaques was ascertained by direct 
observation, indirect like call, and by 
interviewing local Forest Department staff, 
villagers and hunters with the help of coloured 
visuals. For direct observation, root-transects 
along existing and newly cat paths and trails, 
vehicle-transects along roads and motorable 
tracks were macic. 

New-look MACAQUE: Starting with Novem- 
ber 1997, such macaques were sighted in Piri- 
la 'range of West Kameng district, near Jang, 
between Jang and Thingbu, between Tawing 
and Lumla, and enrouce Geshela in Tawing 
district (Choudhury 2(XKJ). A 'second' male 
was photographed in West Kameng in 
November 1997 (see plate), A fine adulr ('first' 
or alpha male) was photographed near Brokser 
in Tawang in October 1998 (by Rupin Dang; 
see plate). During survey, similar macaques 
were reported from near Thungri and Mandla 
Phudung in West Kameng, near Chayangtajo 
and Lada in East Kameng, and above 

Zemithang, near Lumpo, between Magu and 

Thingbu in Tawang district. 

The elevation of these sites ranged from 
2200 to 2953 m asl. The habitat was temperate 
broadleaf and also broadleaf-conjfer mixed 
forests. Mosdy seen arboreal in West Kameng 
while in Tawang, mosdy on the ground. 
Extremely shy in former but less so in latter. 

These macaques had slighdy different 
fheavy') vocalisation. Local villagers, especially 
who regularly visit forest also stated of 

presence of at least two species of macaques, 
of which one has relatively shorter tail and is 
confined to higher mountains {the rhesus 
macaque is not found in these areas). 

Three groups were located in die Piri-la 
range, of which the size of two could he 
ascertained. 21 and >15. Near Gcshela, a 
group had >1 3 animals at 2950 m asl. 
Assamese Macaque: Sighted more frequ- 
ently in West Kameng and Tawang districts 
than in East Kameng (due to heavy 
poaching). The localities where observed 
were Tipi, Scssa (in Scsaa Orchid sanctuary), 
be ween Sessa and Tipi (part of Eaglenest 
wildlife sanctuary) below Lamacamp. near 
Uirang, lenzinggang and near Shergaon in 
West Kameng; Gorsam gompha in Tawang, 
and near Seppa in East Kameng, 

The elevation in all the areas ranged from 
100 to 2400 m asL The habitat ranged tram 
tropical evergreen, subtropical broadleaf and 
temperate broadleaf forests; also in hroad- 
leaf-corifer mixed forests. They were arbo- 
real as well as on the ground. 
Rhesus Macaque; Not seen in Tawang 
district. In East Kameng, seen in Pakhui 
(Pakke) wildlife sanctuary, especially near 
Seijosa. In West Kameng, encountered in the 

foothills in Doimara and Amortola reserve 

forests. The elevation of sighting localities 
ranged from 100 to 200 m asl The habitat 
type was tropical evergreen and scmi- 
evergreen forests. 

Morphological description of the 
New-look Macaque: 

'First* male: Hark brown (chocolate-brown 
in some) dorsally, lighter vsntnlly. Shoulder 
and head often look brighter rufous/olive - 

brown. Tail short and thick. Buff coloured 

side-whiskers and beard. Facial skin darker 
than Assamese macaques. A light yellowish 
patch on the crown with some dark hairs at 
the centre (visible on the photo by R. Dang; see 

plate). Range of tail length unknown bur 
certainly variable (see plate; photo by S.Kumar), 

aPKmu.iLF.iwr 23 


& : > / ? 


', '■: „ : / ; 


New macaque laces: Ursf male in Rri-la range (top); "first male 
in Broker (Mcond from top) 'second' mala in Rri-la range 
{third from top); some lirsf mate in Loriit district (bottjm), 

Some specimens in Lohit district nave 
conspicuous white above their eyes, which is 
faintly visible bui around the eyes in the 
maraqpaes of western Arunarhal Pradesh 
giving a spectacled appearance. 
*Second* male: Dark brown (less dark than 
the 'fust* male) dor sally, lighter vcntrally. Tail 
very short and not thick (see plats). Buff 
coloured side -whiskers present; beard thinner 
than 'first' male. In both 'first' and 'second' 
male, the cars arc not ckarly visible due, to 

side-whiskers in anterior view. 
Adult females: Less dark than males 
dorsally, lighter vcntrally. Tail relatively long. 
Butt coloured side-whiskers not conspicuous 
but present on closer observation. Beard not 
clear. Can be easily confused with Assamese 
macaques in the field unless observed from 

Subadult males: Lees dark than adult males 

dorsally, lighter vcntrally. Tail relatively thick 
and long. Buff coloured side-whiskers hardly 
visible but thin beard conspicuous. Light 
yellowish patch on the crown visible. 
Juveniles: Virtually indistinguishable from 
Assamese macaques. 


The first sighting of new look or mystery 
macaques was on November 24, 1997 at 
above 2500 metres height on way to 
Eaglenest (or Eagle's Nest) pass in West 

Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. I 

took them to be Assamese macaques. These 
macaques occur from floodplains; however, 
they are more numerous in the high 
mountains where they are the only rr.acaaue 
in most parts on the north of the 
Brahmaputra River. But suddenly a large 
iiifile euugln my attention, which had very 
short rail, much shorter than any Assamese 
macaque, and had buff coloured beard-like 
hairs. 1 was intrigued. 

Subsequently, I had te:itaLvel> identified 
the species as Pere David's or Tibetan 
macaque (also known as Chinese stump- 
tailed macaque) (Choudhury 1998, 2000, 
2002). These large monkeys arc closely 
related to the commoner Assamese maca- 
quss with some variations. 1 made many trips 
to the Piri-la range but the macaques 
remained elusive most of the rime or simply 
provided an occasional glimpse. 

While moving in dense bamboo and misty 
forest, the 'first' mak looked like a small 
*bear* on the move in Piri-la range, 

Z4 The ftJTSEl Ncwslrttcr Ntt. fr 2CQ4 

Recently, the same primate has been claimed 
as a new discovery and even an attempt has 
been made to describe a new species (website 
of NCKJ. ITie text and plates of present report 
clearly show that this was not a new discovery 
but a taxon observed and photographec in 
1990s. Moreover attempt to describe a new 
species on the basis of photograph of live 

animals in the wild as holotype and para type* 

was not a proper move. Nobody would be 
able to cross-check these type specimens. 
Moreover, this is not a strange or nearly 
extinct animal that one needs to rush to 
describe without following standard proc- 
edure. Taking tail length of a few individuals 
of macaques, which have significant variation 
in rail lengri (e.g., in t&shg/&ta the range is 5.5- 
8.0 cm; in petopi, 28-36 cm whJe in assamensis, 
19-25 cm (Tocden 1982, 1985] as the main 
criteria is probably not proper. Moreover, 
suhadult male ('holorype') has been mentioned 
as adult (for comparison with full grown 
adults, see plate). 

What were those? I think widioul a 
specimen at hand, it may be difficult to 
confirm — of course I am against killing any 
just for the sake of identification although it is 
sometimes necessary fai science, I tried to 
locate pet macaques but all appeared to be 
assamenm. Skins arc of little use in different- 
tiating tbibetana From assamensis. 

jack Foodcn ol the Field Museum of 
Natural History, Chicago had written a good 
article on this issue (Foocen 2003). He had 
analysed the variations among Assamese 

macacjucs and had used the field drawings 
rme.e by mc fin Choudhun 2000) as basis, f le 
concluded that the new look macaques are 
actually nominate subspecies ol Assamese 
macaque, which were actually believed to 
occar south of the Brahmaputra only 
(Choudhury 1989, 1997, Fooden 1932). 
However, it is unlikely ±at two subspecies 
could occur in a widely overlapping zone. 
Moreover, relative shortening of tail length 
was also attributed to geographical segregation 

Fooder. 1988). Colin Peter Groves of the 
Australian National University, however, 
feck that it was indeed tkibttena as the photo 
in Choudhury (1998) suggested (Groves 


It is intriguing whether the new macaque 
was M. ikibetoHa or an undescribed sub- 
Species of M. assamnm, or even a subspecies 
of the former? It was not M msammsis peiabs, 
which occurs in the area (considering its 
much shorter tail). If it is of the nominate 
race, M a. assamnsis, because of its relatively 
shorter tail length than At a. pefops*, then it 
will be more intriguing as two subspecies 

having overlapping home ranges! Dark facial 

skin and dorsal cobur are also distinct from 
both these subspecies. With tbibetana, the 
main external difference is the tail length (Li 
1999) but :t is possible that the new taxon 
could be a new undescribed subspecies of 
thihtana with relatively longer tail (the two 
subspecies of the Assamese macaque are also 
morphologically distinguished from each 
other only by relative tail length). The photos 
in plate also strongly indicate the same. 

These interesting macaeues need further 
study and a fresh review of AY. tasamtmu and 
tbiktana, at least at subspecific level is , 
necessary. This new location is about 1000 
km towards west of the known range of 
tlulxtam. Because of their closeness *o the 
Assamese macaque, some authorities such as 
Corbet and HiU (1992) even suggested that it 

is a subspecies of the former. 


S. N. Kalita, 5. K. Raha (both former CCFs); late R. 
P. Neog, Yogcsh (both former Directors of 
Namdapha); M-M&Ncgi, MJCPalh, CLorrta, R.Horo, 
R. K. Das (all DFOs); p. Sharma, P.Uas, A.K.Singh ; ^. 
K. Shncne (all Rangers). A. K. Ctirw, R C. Hvy.T. 
Uazarika, Vforuram Goguj, Dorji Raptan, 
Srimanta "i'amuli, tutnesh Kai, Pernba Tamang, 
and Kancha Tamang (all Forest stiff): ErrAly 
Chowdhary, Commissioner, A&sam ; Nor Kusain , 


fillip, larp Sakitl Born, Rahul, Hakepm, Moniram 
and Bisoy (last six were ail drivers); Rami Talukdar 
and Faruq of The RHno Foundation; Nitu Phutart of 
Eco-camp; Bir Bahidur Gurung, S. Majumder (of 
GREF), P.Chuppa, Dr P. Dcwri of Tawang, Dr 
Taeho of Sangti, Sonu Sonar of Dirang IB, Lobsari 
Chandcr, DarRc Tscring, Kuppa, Dorji Nima, Pcma 
Ycshi, Lama Pcma, R. Norbu, Gambo Tsering, 
Abraham, S.Kalita of Singti, Namge Dorji, Pema 
Yaoundi, Gajcn Tamang, Lei Kandu Thungon, htL' 
Ledo Thungon, K. N. Thungon, D. Tamuk, Sitem 
Borang, Mamata Riba, Tiering; Naksong, Tater Hibi, 
Tape Musing, Bikul Gosvam:; and A.K.Goswami of 
WWF-lndia. There were innumerable other people 
who hclpeti me in the field and I thank them all 

collectively- My thanks too to my parents, wife and 

other relatives who gave me the benefit of their 


Samar Singh, then Secretary General of WWF- 
india requested me for further surveys with 

support from tliem, which enabled me to engaj^e 

Bablu Dey and Subhash Chanda of Green Heart 

NGo as Field Assistants. 
Special thanks to Delhi-based cinematographer 

Rupin Dang and Surcsh Kumar for their valuable 



Choudhury, A. U. 1988. Priority 1 ratings for co- 
nservation of Indian primates. O/jx 22:89-94. 

Choudhury, A. U, 1989, Primates of Assam : 
their distribution, habitat and status. Ph. D. 
Thesis, Gauhati University, Guwahati. 300pp. 

rhoudhnry, A. 11. 1997 Chtckliti nf the. mammals 

tf Assam, Revised 2 nd edn. Gibbon Books & 
ASTEC, Guwahati. 103pp 

Choudhury, A. U. 1998. Pcrc David's macaque 
discovered in India. The Kbim Foundation for 
Katun in ME India newsletter 2 (1): 7. 

Chuudhuiy, A. U. 2000. Survey of Perc David's 
macaque in western Arunachal Pradesh. WWF 
■ India NK Regional Office, Guwahat. Final 
Report to WWF-lndia, New Delhi. 23pp. 

Choudhury, A.U.2001. Primates in Mli India : 

in overview of their distribution and conser- 
vation status. EN11S Bull : Wiid£fe and 
Protected Areas I (1): S2-101. 

Chouchury, A.U.2Q02. Survey of primates in 
West Kameng district, Arunachal Pradesh, 
India. ASP KuMn 26: 12 

Chouchur,', A.U. 20O3. The ttiummuts o/Amneihat 
Pradesh, Regency Publications, New Delhi. 

Corbet, G.B. and I -LULL J. E. 1992. The mammals of 
the Indomalayan Fugiw ; a ystmatic review, 
Oxford University Press, Oxford. 

EHenran, J . R. and Mornson-Scott, T.C-S. 1951. 
Checklist of PaJaearctic ind Indian mammals, 1758 
to 1946, British Museum (natural history) (2nd 
ed., 1 966), London. 

Fooden, J, 1982. Taxonomy and evolution of 
the sinica group of macaques : 3. 5pecies and 
subspecies accounts of Macata attamenrir. 
Fieldana q&obgy. N.s. 10: 1-52. 

Fooden, J. 1983. Taxonomy and evolution of 

the sinica group of macaques : 4. Species 
account o( Macata tbtbetana. Fieldiana ipokpy. 
N.s. 17: 20pp. 
Fooden., J. 198B. Taxonomy and evolution of 
the sinica group of macaques :n. IntrTSprrifir 
comparisons and synthesis. Fieldiana fvology. 
N.s. 45;l-44. 

Fooden, J. 2003. Tail length in enigmatic north- 
east Indian macaques and prabable relatives. 
/. Bombay natHistSot. 100: 285-290. 

Groves , C. P. 2001. Primate taxonomy. 
Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington 
and London. 

Li, J-H. 1999. The Tibetan Manque Society :A 
Field Study (in Chinese), Anhui University 
Press, Hefei. 
Mishia, G, Datta, A. and Madhu Sudan, M. D. 
2004. The bigp attitude wildlife of western Antra- 
thai Pradfch ; a turvey npart CERC Technical 

Report No. 8. NCF, ISLT, and WCS (India 
Program), Mysore. 

Pocock, R. I. 1539, 1941. The fauna of British 
India : mammalia. Primates and carnieora. Taylor 
and Francis, London. 

Wcbsiie of NCF [Nature Conservation Found- 
ation). Mysore, httjv/www. C 

26 The KfNFJ NewskttrT No <> ffQ4 



Leaf deer discovered in Nagaland, 
north east india 

Duiing a recent visit to the mountains ot 
eastern Nagaland bordering Myanmar T 
got reports of a small deer that resembled the 
commoner Indian muntjac Muntiams muntjak. 
After thorough search in different villages in 
NIoklak subdivision oi Tuensong district I 
could locate a skull. After measurements and 
examination, I could identify it as a leaf deer 
AC putattmk (see plate). The skull was almost 

complete except for some minor damages that 

did not allow measurements of some 
characteristics. The leaf deer was discovered in 
northern Myanmar by a team of scientists 
from WJdlife Conservation Society, New York 
in 1997, Details are being published elsewhere, 

A new historic locality for 

Sumatran rhinoceros 

The Sumatran rhinoceros Dictrorbinus 
mmatrtnsis once occurred in north east 
India aUo; however, since early 20 th century, 
ill records were of stray individuals. In 
Nagaland, there was past reports from 
Saramat area. While on a visit in February 

200^ for an awareness campajgo 88 DOff oi 
OBC-WJdWings Conservation Award, I saw a 
skull in Noklak, which was reportedly killed 
around the turn of 20 th century from the 
mountains towards north east near India 
Myanmar border. The skull could not be 
measured as it was fixed quite high, and being 
old, any attempt to bring it down would have 
damaged it. This precious specimen, probably 
the first from Nagaland, should be kept in a 
secured place to prevent further degradation 
(may be in Kohima museum). 

New northern locality for leaf deer 

In March 2004, while on a survey' for birds 
and mammals in Dibang Valley districts 

of Arunachal Pradesh, 1 came across two 
antlers of the newly described leaf deer 
Munfiaens psttaotmis. This lia$ extended their 
range farther towards west and north; 
however, the westernmost is Nagaland, 

Wildlife history- 1 

Lieutenant Campbell (probably of Assam 
Light Infantry) shot two rhinoceroses 
from elephant-back near Howiaghat {in 
present day Karbi Anglong and Nagaon 
districts of Assam) on 22 November 1845, 
lieutenant was convinced that both were 
killed by one shot! Tracks of buffaloes were 
also seen. 

A country swarming with wild elephants 
(area around Semkhor [mentioned as 
Semkurj in present day North Cachai Hills 

district of Assam; especially between 

Dhansiri [mentioned as DhunseereeJ river 
and Semkhor, 25 1 * 1 November 1845), 

{Source. Travels and adventures in the province 
of Assam by John Butler, 1855, London], 

Pigmy hog killed 

A critically endangered Pigmy hog Sut 
salmnins was killed in Koldabaii seed 
farm, Manas national park on June 20, 2004. 
Early this year two were killed in paddy field 
near Daodhara reserve forest towards east of 
Manas national park \S oarer. ABSU, KoklabariJ. 

Elephant poached in Baksa 

A female elephant was shot dead by a 
gang of heavily armed poacners near 
Uttarkuchi in Subankhata reserve forest, 
Baksa district in around September 30, 2004. 
The poachers took away its nails, molars and 
part of trunk The carcass was located on 
October 1, 2004, 1 visited the site on the 
nexl day alongwith the Superintendent of 
Police, Baksa and a party of police comprising 

Biun:-LY 27 

Assam police and CRPF. Efforts arc cu tu nab 
the poachers (see phntrgtaph on 4' h or back 

Storks nesting in bamboo - a new 
record from Bhabanipur heronry 

Bhabanipur is a large village in Assam's 
Barpeta district The area has become well 

known in recent times for its large heronry of 

Openbill Storks or Asian Opcnbills Anastomns 
osdtanr. This heronry came into existence in 
late 1990s around human setrJemcnts, In 
October 2004, I was surprised, to see two nesrs 
in *bholuka' bamboos Bamhsa bakooa (see 
plate). This was probably the first authentic 
record of Openbill Storks nesting in bamboo. 
Earlier I had reports from Cingamukh, 
Dhemaji district in early 1990s. The local 
villagers are protecting the heronry. Details arc 
being published elsewhere. 


Lower Subansiri hydroelectric 
project threatens elephant corridor 

This mega hydroelectric projerr wi»h an 
installed capacity of 2000 MW on the 
Subansiri river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra 
is coming up at Gerukaiiiukli, falling partly in 
Dhemaji district of Assam and partly in 
Papum Pare and Lower Subansiri districts of 
Arumchal Pradesh. The site (not the dam site 
ptopct but farther down where the hcusir.g 
colonies and offices are located) is an 
imponant corridor for the wild elephants. This 
corridor links the animals of Dhemaji ar.d the 
foothills region of Siang districts with those, of 

Scban*rl RF : i- m 


WMfedRoad««i .;!■! 

Etephart habtel 1 I 
Ebphortoomdor I 

Beprwl mwemeni routes 
Ahflnlnnfiri "■■ 
In use «^" 

Lower Sl ban sin HE project (not to scale) 

forests Lakhiuipur. and Papum Pate districts. 
With the expansion of human habitation and 
tea plantation towards south and steep slope 
towards north, the habitat near Gerukamukh 
became narrower over the years. With the 
development of roads (widening with 
lighting) and increased vehicular traffic, the 
area between the roads and the river has 

becortic a corridor with elephants using it 

mostly to move across the Subansiri nver. 
The human-elephant conflict is likely to 
increase in the area. Already the eJephants 
have virtually stopped using the 
northernmost of the routes. The next from 
north is also certainly going to cease with the 
beginning of extraction of sand/gravel/ 
boulder from river (shoal) bed. 

Some possible solutions include shirting of 
housing colony and main offices outside the 
forest area, avoiding lighting along the road 
inside forest and strict monitoring at the 
time of extraction of materials from the 
shoal bed of the rivet. 

Anti-poaching drive in Baksa 

An anti-poaching drive has been launched in 
the newly created Baksa district in north- 
western Aaaam where the bu.k of the famous 
Manas national park is also located. The first 
step taken by the district administration was 
issue of notices [vide. No, BDF-2/ 2004/6, 
dtd September 14, 20OI] to the Goon fturbas 

28 Th e R l is a Ncfr itor N g, 6 - 2W4 

(village headmen) and the lessees of the 
markets to stop sale of any wildlife or their 
body parts. The Circle Officers, Block 
Development Officers and the Offker-in- 
chaiges of the police stations were also 
involved in the process. The next step was 
distribution of educational materials, which 
included the book entitled l Wildlife Crime* by 

V. Mcnon and A. Kumar (courtesy: The Wildlife 

Trust of India) to police and army officials, 
and also to some active local groups such as 
the ABSU (All Bodo Students 1 Union) unit of 
Koklabari. Publications of CEE (Centre of 
Environmen: Education) and posters of The 
Rhino Foundation for nature in NE India 
were also distributed. Copies of I fa Wild Uft 
(Protection) ^Att were also given to the police 
stations and magistrates. 

In a drive against the poachers, a party of 
Assam Police and CRPF had recovered 13 
snares, mainly used tn kill hog deer, two pieces 
cf hom of wild buffalo and a skin of a recently 
killed hog deer from a village near Bhuympara 
area of Manas national park in the last week of 
December 2004, The police team was led by 
Sushil Kr. Talukdar, Officer-in-charge of 
Borbori and Mpu Kalita, in charge of 
Baganpara out post. Among other policemen 
who accompanied were Bijoy Boro, Abdul 
Karim, Simanta Phukan, rChirmohan Singh, 
N ripen Saikia and Frabhat Saikia. 

This operation has sent a new message to 

the poachers that they are been pursued not 
only by the Forest officials but the district 
administration as a whole as well as police and 

paramilitary forces. Tic poachers could 
escape: however, vital information on their 
hideouts obtained for future operations. 


JANET KEAK.Died in England on November 
24, 2004 after a short fight against brain 
tumour, which was diagnosed only in 
September 2004. Dr (Mrs) Kear was well 
known in ornithology circle for her works on 
waterfowl. I never met her but was in touch 
on matiets related to waterfowl. On her 
request 1 wrote the chapter on Ix - sser Tree- 
rlurlc in the honk 'D«drr, f7<vr*» and Viiw** of 
the ootid. Janet never got to sec the fruits of 
her 13 years of work on this book in 
published ftjini, the publishers, Christopher, 
Helm and Christopher Perrins., Oxford 
University' Press put together a facsimile of 
the two volumes, complete with hard covers 
and dust jackets, and dais was given to Janet 
on the day she died. Demise of Kear is a loss 
to the international community working on 
research and conservation of waterfowl. Her 
funeral took place on 8th December, 
attended by some 200 relations and friends. 

AfiDUR Rash ID (-2004). A young man of 
only 18 years succumbed to suspected 
malaria. Late Rasrud was the son of late 
Jamal Ali T a staff of Orang national park who 
died during an encounter with poachers. 
Late Rashid had played a key role in brigning 
down the poaching of rhinoceros in Orang 
from 9-10 per year to one or nil as an 
informer. He used to move around in the 
villages looking for strangers or known 
poachers and report back to me c:r Bibhav 
Talukda: uf Aaranyak or as an anunymous 
caller to the DFO (wildlife), Mangaldoi. 
Ultimately the poachers had to leave or were 
arrested. Earlier he was suffering from 

tuberculosis but was provided free creatment 

by The Rhino Foundation. FLs death is a 
major blow to conservation of rhinoceros in 
Qrang national park 


Book Reviews 

Ritdemd by THE EDITOR 

1 THE ATLAS OF LOKTAK. by CLTrisal and Th. Manihar. 
Published in 2004 by Wetlands International - South Asia 
Programme, New Deini and LoKtak Development Authority, 
ImphaL {30 x 22 cm), pp. 115. Price. Not mentioned. 

This coffee table sized book dealt with one of the most 
important freshwater ecosystems of India - Liktak lake in 
Manipur. Loktak is also a Ramsar Site. The book was 
printed in good quality paper. This should encourage 
other agencies of the region to sponsor such projects to 
showcase important sites. Maps are excellent and the 
reproduction was also very good. Photos were a mixed 

lot, acme came oot good (e.g., on pp. titls page, t, 15, 57, 

61) but most were average. Reproductions on both front 
and back covers were good. 

I Tie main drawback in the book is that the issue of I thai 
barrage and its impact on Loktak ecosystem was not 
given adequate coverage. Reference was inadequate and - 
missed out the landmark publications of A.O.Hume, 
J.C.Higgins and H.P.Gee. The Manipur Association for 
Science and Society (MASS) was carrying out waterfowl 
census since 1 996 but those were not reflected. In Annex 
III (mammalian fauna), Mm/da ermnea and FmtambuUs 
pmnanti do not occur in Manipur. Both Annex III and 
Annex IV (avif&una) should have followed standard 
checklists. At present these do not follow any recognised 
sequence. The Annex IV was also confusing, as some 
birds have been listed as species and some as subspcciei. 
Many names have been wrongly printed whi e some sum 
as si. 64 and (55 were same bird listed twice. 

Despite these drawbacks, this atlas remains the best 
source of good maps on Loktak and Keibul Lunao, □ 

N.K.Sinha and 3. Chak-eborty. Published in 2002 by Zoological 
Survey of India Kolkata (24 x 16 cm], pp. 289. Price. Rs 350, 

For long Ellerroan and Morrison-Scott's 'Checklist of 
Palaearetic and Indian mammals, 1758 to 1946 ' published by 
British Museum (natural history) in 1951 remained the 

only standard checklist for Indian mammals Although a 

second edition came out in 1966, up dates were badly 
lacking till 1 992 when 'The mammals of the \ndomalofan region: 
a systematic review* by Corbet and Hill ( Oxford Univ. Frcss, 

Oxford) was published. However, 

a comprehensive Indian account 
still remain far off as vital local 
details w T ere not available in latter 
and range of many species was 
incorrectly shown. 

With this background, the 
checklist by Zoological Surrey of 

India was expected to be £ 

comprehensive one. There were 
lot of unanswered questions anci 
it is difficult to say whether these 
were inadvertent or lack of cross 
checking. On p,83, West Bengal 
has been included within the 
range of slow loris but sc far 
there is no authentic record. P. 
85, the Assamese macaque occurs 
up to central Nepal only towards 
west thus its occurrence in Uttar 
Pradesh needs clarification. P. 86, 

Pig-tailed macaque is also found 
in Manipur, Mizoram and eastern 
Arunachal Pradesh. On p.88, 
golden langur's distribution is an 

30 lT<r RKMEI Newsletter No 6 2004 

out-dated one. Goalpara district ma teuigaiused in 1983 
(two decades), the Sankosh river no longer forms parr of 
Goalpara, The type locality also needed correction. P. 89, 
Phayrc's leaf monkey has also been recorded in Mizoram. 
P.93, what is the status of dhole in not ill cast India? Only 
Sikkim has been mentioned. P. 150, for several decades, 
the pigmy hog is known only from Assam and not 
Sikkim. P.152, No musk deer occur* in Assam as 

mentioned in case of Mosrbus fmcttt, P, 1 53, the ckital also 

occurs in western Assam P, 160. gaur occurs widely in 
Arunachal Pradesh but not mentioned. It also occurs in 
all other northeastern states. P. 1 63 T lakin occurs all over 
Arunachal Pradesh in higher elevations and not confined 
to Mtshmi Hills alone, P. 166-16 7 . serow occurs all over 
north eastern states except the floodpiains and not only in 
Arunachal Pradesh as mentioned. P. 168-169, blue sheep 
also occurs in Arunachal Pradesh but not mentioned in 
the book. P. 184-185, the widely used common name for 
Pettttirista ekgans is Grey-headed giant flying scuirrel and it 
also occurs in Arunachal Pradesh. P, 221, pikas occur at 
very -high elevations, hence, it is not understood how 
Oihotona foment could occur in Assam? All these errors 
were in larger species; probably there were many more in 
bats and rodents, which I did not treal in details. 

The main reason for which the data provided are out 
dared was that recent capers in reputed journals were noi 
referred as is evident from the bibliography. It is obvious 
that this book needs major corrections and updating. D 

3. MOUNTAIN UNGULATES Envis bulletin, by S. Satbyakumar 
and Y.V.Bratnagar Published in 2002 by Wildlife Institute of 
Inefa, Dehra Dun. (27 x 21 em), pp. 13? Price Not m^nioned. 

Of all rhe ENVIS bulletins (a project launched by 
government of India for better dissemination of data), the 
one produced by the Wildlife Institute of India was 
comparatively better and well edited. This issue was 
devoted to the ungulates that inhabit rhe Himalaya. On 
p.l> the subspecies etatdaHts of goral has not been 
mentioned although it occurs in north east India, On p.2, 
the range of screw in north east India has not been 
shown correctly, ft is widespread. In table 1 on p,48, 

Himalayan tahr has been listed for Nnmdapha but review 

on p.4 gives a contradictory picture. Actually it is not 
found. Despite these factual errors, this publication is a 
useful document, c 



J H H, SI -KM) 
V k. SIKH \ 



by Elhel Si. Clair Grimwood 
Pu Wished in 20,00 by Cyan 
Publishing House. New Delhi. (22,5 x 
14.5 cm), pp. 204 ISBN: 81-212- 
0135-7. Price. Rs 263, 

The book was no doubt a 
reprint of a classic publication of 
early 20 ,h century although the 
new publishers did not mention 
anything. The author was wife of 

a British Political Agent and the 

book is basically her memoirs. 
This readable book narrates the 
scenario of Manipur with some 
infarmation on Assam's Cachar 
district, Shillong and Sylhet in 
19** 1 century. Anybody familiar 
with these places would find it 
interesting reading. Her husband 
was ultimately killed in a 
rebellion. The book also throws 
some light on the wildlife such as 
occurrence of tiger and hoolock 

(mentioned as hooluck), and 
regular duck shooting in Loktak 
lake. There were printing 
mistakes here and there. ~ 

bw?krkv;kw5 31 

5. ATMAGHATI PAKHI by Amal Gupta. Published in 
2001 by Grarthatrtna, Kolkata. [In Bengali. (21 x 

14 cm), pp, 63. ISBN; 61-7572-097-2. Price. RS 35. 

Amal Gupta is a senior journalist based at 
Guwahau. He has keen interest in 
environment and has also anrhored a ronple 
of other books on environmental issues. This 
small boak contains some articles on the birds, 

mostly of different areas in Assam including 
Deepor html. However, 'he bird phenomenon 
of Jatinga has been covered in greater details 
spread over five out of 13 chapters of the 
book. This reviewer wrote the introduction. 
There were some inadvertent printing errors in 
the 'introduction ' where Orang has been 
mentioned as *hilly' sanctuary. The book aiso 
contains black-arid- white illustrations both 
photo and line drawing?. This book would be 
useful for Bengali -speaking areas of Assam 
while readers in West Bengal, Bangladesh, etc., 
will atao find it interesting reading. L 

Zafar ul Islam and Acad R. Rahmani. Published in 
2004 by Bombay Natural History Society, Murnbai 
and Birollfe International, UK. (30.5 x 22 cm), pp. 
1.150, ISBN: 019 567333 6 Price. Rs 3000. 

A large, heavy and colourful book. This 
important publication is the result of a five 
yean, nationwide effort through workshops 
and interactions. It lisrs and describe!' more 
than 465 sites of India, which are important 
for birds. Around 600 colour photographs 
supported this. The paper and reproduction of 
colour photos were of high qualify The 
format of presentation of accounts of 
different sites allowed smooth reading and 
also easy to locate as all (except a few in one 
oi two States, may be later entries) were listed 
alphabetically. Different colours were used for 
different states. The book would be extremely 
useful as a reference document For Forest 
and Environment departments. Tourism 

departments, researchers, students as well as 
others. Probably for the first time such a large 
number of natural sites ( mos: of the 

important bird arca3 arc also important for 
other wildlife, nature and are sites of scenic 

beauty). The book also highlights the threats 
to these important sites Each site account is 
complete with references and hence, readers 
need not go to end repeatedly to consult full 

There were no major drawbacks save for 
some minor spelling errors and printing 
mistakes. In many site accounts, more than 
half a page was left blank, which photo- 
graphs could have filed up. 

This book is highly recommended for 
anybody interested on the birds and their 
major haunts in India, eco- tourist planners 
and guides, Forest departments, conser- 
vationists, students and even tourists. 

Ir would be useful if smaller editions on 
die basis of states or regions are brought out 
as reprints (hence, expenditure will be 
subsidised). This will ensure smooth carriage 
and a more affordable price for general but 
interested public. 

32 The RFNL1 Newsletter No. 6 2004 

Vanishing habitat threatens Phayre's leaf monkey 

Anwaruddin Choudhury 



cspcctaclcd', hairy and with long 
tail, Phayrc's leaf monkey Presbjtis 
[-Vrachypitheats) pbayrei of southern 
Assam's Barak valley districts is a remarkable 

primate. Also often called the Spectacled 

monkey, this largely vegetarian species also 
occurs in Tripura and Mizoram in India, and 
parts ot Bangladesh and south east Asia. It 
has also been reported from southern areas 
of Churachandpur district in Mauiipur (see 
map, opposite page). 

It was in !9Sti that 1 sigh led the first pbaym 
in Assam near Gharmura in Innerline RF 
(RF= reserve forest) of Hailakandi district. 
Suljscqucntly, n ro.ikl '>e located in most of 
the forested areas of southern (Jachar, Haila- 
kandi and Karimganj. In other parts of Inne 
rline RF, Katakhal RF, Shingla RF, Longai 
RF, Badshahitilla RF, Tilbhum RF, Dohalia 
RF, Patharia Hill RF and aiso reported from 
southern parts of Barak RF. The monkey has 
also been recorded in unclassed forests north 
of Innerline RF in Cachar and Hailakandi, 
and in small patches of woodland in tea 

estates in southern Karimganj. 

Massive habitat loss 

Since its discovery- in Assam in 1985, the leaf 
monkey has lost at leas: a third of :ts habitat 
in slightly less than two decades. In Mizoram 
and Tnpura, the scenario was similar. If 
appro vim Ate habitat availability of around 

1970 is considered, then the loss is not less 
than 50 per cent in its entite range in India, 
The i j lain causes of such loss were jbum 
(shitting) cultivation, illegal felling of trees, 
large-scale bamboo harvesting for paper 
mills and encroachment 

Fragmentation and poaching 

In Karimganj alone, the languis of Patharia 
RF, for example cannot move to any other 

forest while those in tea gardens such as Putni 
are confined to tiny pockets of bamboo and 
trees. It is estimated that at least 10 such 
isolated subpopulations are there in Karimganj 
alone. At places, the langurs are raiding crops 
also. Situation in Tripura and Mizoram is 
worse, Largescale jhum cultivation and felling 
has resulted in severe fragmentation. In 
Tripura, due to insurgency there is no 
movement of departmental officials in the 
interior areas. 

Most of the poaching of Phayre's leaf 
monkey is for meat for the not and nor. tilde. 
All the tribes inhabiting Barak Valley, 
Mizoram and Tripuia take primate meat and 
any langur within easy reach is killed. 

Future ! 

In such a situation, there is little hope for long- 
term survival of many subpopulations. There 
is no protected area in Assam for Phayre's leaf 
monkey. In Tripura and Mizoram, it has been 
reported from three and two protected areas 
respectively. These protected areas are again 
inadequately managed. At Putni, I had initiated 
a corservatinn programme under Forest Dev- 
elopment Agency through Social Forestry 
Division of Karimganj in 2003. If it succeeds 
then small-pocketed monkeys elsewhere can 
also be covered hy such efforts, 

In the guise of bamboo flowering, some 
vested groups are trying to harvest all the 
bamboos without giving scam regard to the 
'original dwellers' of bamboo habitats (sec 
covet photograph). 

Creation of protected areas in Barak valley 
(such as DhaJcswari and Pathatia), adeouatc 
protection of key sites such as Dimpa and 
Ngcrigpui in Mizoram and Gumti and Trishna 
in Tnpura, awareness campaign and check on 
poaching arc recommended, ~ 

100 km 


General dstribulon 
| Main areas 

Ijjijjljjjl ProbaDle areas 

P hay re's leaf monkey 
Presbytis ^Tractoypithecus) phayrei 

In the guise of bamboo flowering, some vested groups are. trying to 
harvest all the bamboos without giving scant regard to the 'original 
dwellers' of bamboo habitats (see cover photograph). 

T nftTfflnr 

, im 

; ■ i ^ 


I^^Ki*f** ' * iS'' infill' 1 j#^B 

^■^m A 

ifl "^^B 1 

-^"' 'bikini n ji 


He/p the authorities in apprehending elephant poachers 

This elephant was killed by poachers in Sutxinkhata reserve forest, Baksa 
district and photographed or October 2, 2004. Although the elephants 
are revered and worshiped, There is little public outcry against such 
savage killings! 

We thank OIL, INDIA LIMITED fot their support in bringing out thffi publication 

Published by THE RHINO FOUNDATION FOR NATURE TN NF. INDIA anc printed at Saraighat 
Offset Picas, DuuiLuxiiiiaiJuiii, Guwaliati 731 021, Assam, India. 

Honorary Fdiror fir Anwamddin Choudkury 


Mm wmmmwmmm im^m